The year is 1995, and I, Rachael Row, enter the WMU dorms on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University to begin the pursuit of purpose. I am a stranger on this campus, unfamiliar with the town or the school, but ready to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
Fast forward four years through the track and field career and a Health and Physical Education & Recreation degree, and the entrepreneurial journey begins. A few career changes, some life experience, and a network of professionals from around the world, and believe it or nor, I am on purpose more than ever!
Because I know who I am and exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life, I will walk back onto the Oklahoma Baptist University campus, this time as a mentor. I am going to share my understanding of my purpose and my personal brand to young women who are finishing the final leg of their college journey.
Tomorrow night I will use and share my gifts and talents. I have been asked to, not only be a mentor for this year, but also to speak at the inaugural kick off dinner of Lydia’s Lamp Mentorship program for young women on campus. I am very honored to be a leader in the program, which has been titled in honor of Lydia, the influential and successful businesswoman mentioned only two times in the Bible.
Lydia met Paul and Silas while they were in Philippi and she took time out of her busy schedule to listen to them. After listening and accepting the gospel, she persuaded Paul and Silas to stay in her home, according to Acts 16:15. Lydia may have been the first Gentile converted to Christianity in Europe and she may also have been the first businesswoman to open her home as a worship center for European Christians. Lydia, like women of today, was both a domestic and corporate goddesses.
When speaking to the young women who have entered this mentor program, I will challenge them to grow their personal brand and to grow their network – intentionally and without apology. You see I am so blessed to have had great mentors early in my career who prepared me to live out my purpose. I am meant to carry that forward and to mentor other women. Everything I have done, leading up to this day, has been to prepare me for the role of mentor. Over the last couple weeks, as I prepared for this presentation, I have been so lucky to have heard from a few wonderful women, whom I have mentored, and am abundantly proud of!
Kara, from New York City, made a significant life decision to step away from the corporate chase to raise her child and support her husband. Fhionna, from Oklahoma, moved half way across the country to pursue her search for meaning and purpose. And Shannon, now in Chicago, whom I met eight years ago on this same OBU campus, mailed a heart warming thank you note to me. She thanked me for the mentorship I provided her as she progressed through college and later took a leap of faith joining a start up business. I am so blessed by the success of these young women.
Tomorrow I want to do my best, not only for the women listening live, but also to honor those girls who have trusted me for years as their mentor and friend. As my mentees grow up, take on the world in their own way, my universe of friendship and network expands. I want to remind women that if you have “made it” be sure you are mentoring others, if you are on the way, bring someone with you, and if are just beginning – find a mentor and build relationships with those that have come before you.
Every mentorship expands your sphere of influence. And research suggests that one of the largest indicators of a woman’s success is her network. So you see, mentorship, networking, and success go hand in hand!