When he wasn’t studying for his own classes, Juan Remolina, a 2016 Missouri S&T graduate in economics, mathematics and physics, spent much of his academic career at S&T mentoring others. Instead of sleeping in, he got up early to open the Burns and McDonnell Student Success Center or the student ID office. Twelve-hour days on campus were the norm for Remolina, who plans to start work on a graduate degree in astrophysics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor this coming fall.
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, and now a U.S. citizen, Remolina helped guide dozens of students to long-term success as a student success coach and coordinator and as a PRO Leader. But one fruitful mentorship experience stands out.
“A senior in biology came to the Student Success Center and said he wanted to graduate in May, but he was struggling in his classes,” says Remolina. “Together, we worked every week of the school year on time management and study skills. In the end, he graduated without a problem.”
Remolina never studied biology extensively, but he says that did not matter.
“I’m not a master in any subject,” says the triple major. “But, I know how to study, no matter what the subject is. The sciences have a particular way that you can approach them and gain understanding. As a mentor, I was there to give tips on studying and learning and guide students to success, not do the studying for them.”
While Remolina became a master at mentoring others, he says he learned something new from every student he helped.
“Even though the reason I was there was to guide the student, I gained more from the experience than they did,” says Remolina. “The whole experience of mentoring someone is incredible. I was able to share all I had learned through past mentoring experiences. On top of that, being influential in someone’s life, not for your own benefit, is rewarding.”
Through every positive and negative mentoring experience, Remolina says he was striving to attain his own goals as a human being.
“I’m a firm believer that the experiences I’ve had, whether they are positive or not, all helped me to learn something,” he says. “So I learn from every experience and for me, the way to live is to share those experiences through mentoring others.”
Remolina didn’t just learn from his experiences as a mentor. He also learned from the other side of the equation.
“I’ve had amazing mentors who were willing to listen to me, and who only had my best interest at heart,” Remolina says. “They were great mentors to me because they led me to a solution and stayed objective while I talked a problem through with them.”
But, for Remolina, it wasn’t just about objective problem-solving or good discussions with his mentors. He says he was never afraid to ask professors or friends to help put things in perspective on tough days.
“My mentors, like my bosses and academic advisors, pushed me to do things that were sometimes out of my comfort zone with the idea of giving back to others in some way,” he says. “I’m certain that was purposefully done to help me become a better person with a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.”