The Power of Mentors

Bailey Bounds is a St. Edward’s graduate who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Writing and Rhetoric with a minor in Communication. Bailey now works as a reporter and editor for KidsWire, a source which provides business professionals with the strategies, news and insight they need to successfully engage with digitally connected kids. Bailey is also an editor for a source called Austin XL, which focuses on Austin technology and businesses. 

Everyone could use a mentor who sees their strengths, believes in them, helps seal doubts, and pushes them to succeed.

Three years ago, I met my mentor, Dr. Mary Rist, an English Writing and Rhetoric (ENGW) professor at St. Edward’s University. As a sophomore at the University, I had no idea what an impact she would have on my life.

College was difficult for me the first year. I came from a background of being a professional distraction to my peers. Unmanageable, inattentive, loud and hyperactive were all common words my grade school teachers used to describe me.


The only thing I came into St. Ed’s knowing was that I liked writing. I ended up in the Communication major, which wasn’t the best fit for me.


My classes weren’t bad, but I wasn’t extremely passionate about them either. I felt the same lack of motivation I’d felt my entire life in school, and my barely-passing grades reflected it that year. Needless to say, things needed to improve.


My redemption came in the form of the American Grammar class I took with Dr. Rist at the start of my sophomore year. Taking that class was the best decision I ever made in college. Not only did I love it, but I was good at it.

It was through the American Grammar class that I built my relationship with Dr. Rist. I can honestly say that she was one of the first teachers to truly see and believe in my potential.

I loved stopping by her office to go over homework and papers. She could see that I didn’t believe in myself and spent quite a bit of time reassuring me that I was talented. And while I ALWAYS doubted my instincts (and still do), I didn’t fail.

With Dr. Rist’s guidance, I adopted a writing major and took on my first internship as a marketing coordinator. I think she secretly knew I needed real-world experience to build my confidence and wanted to give me that push.

Switching majors changed my entire college experience. I was invested in all of my classes, a feeling I never imagined I would experience in school.

Dr. Rist kept up with me as I went through the major and even hired me to be her Revising and Editing Teaching Assistant.

The best part about her leadership was that while she is easily one of the most talented people I know, she always remained grounded and “real.” I noticed how scattered she could be and realized that to be a leader and a mentor, you don’t have to be perfect.

Leaders and mentors are just real people who have trudged through the experience and want to come back to the starting line to offer others direction.

When I graduated a year ago, Dr. Rist was sitting on the stage at the commencement ceremony. As they called my name and I began to walk, I heard her yell, “Woo! Go Bailey!” If that’s not someone who has true faith in another person, I don’t know who is.

Had I never met her, I probably wouldn’t have become an ENGW major and definitely wouldn’t have pushed myself to take on internships and develop my true passions and skills.

She believed in me. She reassured me. She pushed me to challenge myself. And she kept up and still keeps up with me to this day.

While I don’t believe one person can be completely accountable for another’s success, I do think we could all use someone like Dr. Rist who is invested enough to guide us.


Today’s post is the fifth of the SOS Leadership Austin Leading Ladies’ Blog Series. The purpose of this blog series is to share the stories and insights of women who are answering the call to leadership in their lives. Come back each Friday to read more!

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