Redhawk Alums Experience the Symbiosis of Mentoring

An important part of the Seattle University student experience is tapping into the diverse and powerful network of the alumni community. C.J. Chen, ‘20, ’21, and Jolene Parisio, ‘08, are two alums...

An important part of the Seattle University student experience is tapping into the diverse and powerful network of the alumni community. C.J. Chen, ‘20, 21, and Jolene Parisio, 08, are two alums who have shared their experience—and their expertisefor the benefit of Redhawk students.

Chen’s path to becoming a mentor began as a student. During his junior year, he was matched with a mentor through LinkUp, an annual “speed networking” event that gives students the opportunity to practice networking while asking questions and learning from alumni.

Over the span of two years Chen developed relationships with two mentors, both of whom worked in his chosen field of accounting. They typically connected monthly, either through email or in-person, to discuss Chen’s career path and preparation.

Now an accountant at Costco, Chen reflects with fondness at having a mentor to help guide his career journey. “As a mentee,” he says, “I received a lot of guidance and advice that definitely helped me into my career.”

It was such a positive experience that, after graduating, Chen was compelled to become a mentor so that he could have a similar impact on students.

Jolene Parisio, president of the Women of SU alumni board, had a similar experience with influential mentors. While pursuing her MBA at SU, and throughout her marketing career, Parisio received invaluable guidance from mentors that shaped her professionally. From those positive experiences, Parisio decided to start doing the same for others.

“As I climbed the ranks in my marketing roles, I began mentoring others. I felt strongly about wanting to give back the knowledge I gained outside of the classroom. In my experience, we are continually learning even if we aren't in the classroom formally,” Parisio says. “Providing mentorship has become my way of contributing to this ongoing cycle of learning and growth.”

Parisio’s mentoring involvement includes attending LinkUp events to provide career guidance to students. Throughout her mentor journey, she met Lizzy, a recent graduate looking for graphic designer roles and had an immediate connection over their shared interest in marketing. Parisio ended up hiring Lizzy as an intern to work on client projects for Parisio’s consulting company, Cojective.

It was a win-win situation: Lizzy gained experience and Parisio was able to meet increasing client needs.

Like Parisio, Chen finds fulfillment in mentoring. He was matched with an accounting student earlier this year and enjoys being the one to lend his expertise. His personal philosophy is to let the mentee drive the relationship in terms of what guidance and advice they want. “That’s how my mentors liked to work,” he says, “and I think it’s a great approach.”

“Seattle U is very focused on giving back,” Chen adds, “and that focus became a part of me.”

As a mentor, Parisio not only gives guidance, but also learns from her mentees.

It is refreshing to discuss topics from those coming right out of school, allowing me to explore diverse topics and understand the nuances of generational differences. It definitely has made me a better leader,” Parisio says. “What brings me immense fulfillment is witnessing the remarkable growth of the students and graduates I mentor as they step into their professional journeys. Seeing their achievements unfold has been profoundly rewarding and continues to inspire my commitment to mentoring.”

As mentors, Chen and Parisio embody the university's mission of empowering today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Interested in mentoring? Learn more about LinkUp: An Alumni & Student Mentoring Event happening on January 30 here.

Seattle University Alumni Association

November 14, 2023