MentHER continues to provide empowering opportunities

Mentoring program prepares CBE students for the future through mentorship, inspirational workshops

By KYLE HOBSTETTER on February 26, 2024

woman presents to a group of students
Photo by Alexander Wright | Towson University

As she looked over a conference room of women who will be the future of the business world, Shaunna Payne Gold couldn’t help but get excited. 

Gold is a higher education professional with more than 18 years’ experience. She travels around the country facilitating in-depth dialogues concerning diversity, equity and inclusion and professional growth.

On a sunny September day, Gold found herself facilitating a workshop with dozens of female Towson University students as part of MentHER, a program that supports the growth, education and empowerment of women in the College of Business & Economics (CBE) as well as Baltimore-area high school students through mentorship and networking.

As she went through her presentation, “Modern Elders and Future Ancestors: Approaching Mentorship as Partners in Disruption,” Gold couldn’t contain her excitement that a program like this exists on TU’s campus.

“Programs like MentHER are pivotal to the college experience,” Gold says. “It’s incredible to have professionals provide young women with opportunities to climb the ladder. For these professionals to be active and present in their young lives, it’s a game-changer.

“These students are not going to remember that one question on that exam, but they are going to remember the one person who gave them an opportunity.”

In its 15 years, MentHER has served approximately 165 CBE students and 180 high school students.

A one-year program running from September to May, its guided discussions focus on issues facing women—from financial literacy to exploring stereotypes and navigating emotions in the workplace.

The program also matches students with external mentors within the local business community to provide career-focused coaching.

Lauren Tigue Meredith, who is the professional development partner in the College of Business & Economics, serves as the facilitator for the MentHER program. When planning workshops for the year, one of the first calls she made was to Gold.

“For the current CBE student, as well as MentHER, there is a desire for relevancy in programming and resources,” Meredith says. “Dr. Gold enlightened students on how they can cultivate relationships.

“It was clear as I listened to students reflect on the workshop and give an overview to our mentors during match night, that Dr. Gold delivered a workshop where students absorbed the content, were immediately applying the key pieces of information as well as changing their approach to their mentoring relationships.”

One of the students touched by Gold’s workshop was Aisha Dosunmu, a second-year business administration student with a concentration in marketing. Dosunmu is in this year’s MentHER cohort.

Since joining MentHER, Dosunmu says her experience with fellow mentees and the sponsors has been valuable in growing her passion for building a community. She was especially inspired during Gold’s workshop.

“As a modern elder, Dr. Gold opened the space to be vulnerable while educating us in the areas that we could develop,” Dosunmu says. “One of the main takeaways I received from the session was the idea of gentelligence—an intergenerational approach to different mindsets. As young adults, we are developing the skills and knowledge to later pass down to the generation that succeeds us, and we must be willing to open to learning from one another.”

The mentorship experience for students is cross-generational. In addition to their professional mentors, TU students in the program work with students from Baltimore County high schools. Through workshops and activities, the TU and high school students discuss preparing for college and develop leadership and professional skills like problem-solving and creative thinking.

The program has been so impactful for women at TU, that it received one of five inaugural grants from the Tall-Wiedefeld Society (TWS) at TU. By providing mentorship opportunities and workshops like the one with Gold, MentHER continues to follow its motto, “level up our future together.”

“Getting a TWS grant means MentHER has a responsibility, not just to CBE and MentHER participants, but the broader campus community and TWS members,” Meredith says. “Dr. Gold had students question what their role as future leaders, and students were very clear that they see themselves as being able to make a positive impact on future generations. Receiving TWS support is developing our future TWS members.”