This month’s mentor spotlight is Brian Gardner! This is Brian’s first year as a UB mentor and we are happy to welcome him to the UB family. His mentee is Hue Houa Yang, a junior at Central High School. Please continue reading to learn more about Brian:
I am currently a student teacher at Harding High School in St. Paul MN. I work with ELL students (English Language Learners), mostly recent immigrants. It is a wonderful experience. I get to work with people from all over the world, just minutes from my home. The many perspectives that I encounter make this career path more than worthwhile.
I’m a bit of non-traditional student teacher though, as this is the beginning of a second career for me. Previously, I worked for ten years as a manager at an excellent local company that dealt with advertising, consultation and data collection. As it was a small company, I was a “jack of all trades.” Prior to this, I worked for both the Wilmington News Journal and the St. Paul Pioneer Press—in both cases, I worked with advertising and marketing. In my free time (when I have some), I do a bit of photography, catch a few fish, enjoy camping, and do quite a lot of gardening.
I am originally from Green Bay, WI (go Packers!). I’ve lived in La Crosse as well and visit as often as possible. I received my undergrad in 1996 from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, where I graduated with a BA in English and Business. I majored in English, and at the time I wasn’t quite sure what a liberal arts degree would do for me. After graduation, I moved to Wilmington, Delaware. I only bring up Delaware as I know it will make many reader’s jealous that I lived for a time in Delaware, the coolest of the 50 states. Actually, I did enjoy it and am happy to say that, “yeah, I lived in Delaware.”
Oddly, 15 years later, I am finally putting my original degree to use in a related field. Currently, I am at Hamline University where I am pursuing initial licensure for teaching.
The Midwest trifecta: fishing, camping and hunting. However, I also do a bit of photography in my free time as well as gardening.
At the moment, my hope is to complete my student teaching and become licensed, and then of course to find a teaching position at a local high school. I’m taking this one step at a time though.
Why mentor for UB?
I wish I had a mentor in high school. I was lucky that I had parents that made it clear that I needed to work hard to succeed, but at sixteen I didn’t quite know or understand that the world is filled with opportunities for those who would take them. Sometimes I floated along without direction—I ended up in a good place, but perhaps I could have taken a better road.
Advice to UB Participants
Do well in school—find balance between your personal life and the work you need to do to succeed. If you do well, you will be amazed at the opportunities you will encounter over the next ten years. If you don’t take school seriously, you’ll find yourself a bit older, wishing you had.