As Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, our team at the Over My Shoulder Foundation wanted to share how thankful we are for all of the mentors that have impacted the lives of our youth and made a difference in Designing the Next Generation.

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Margaret Russell
Source: Kerry via Pinterest

We often use our blog as an opportunity to highlight individuals that have been recognized for their contributions as mentors, and we recently talked about the positive impact that Bina Kalola, head of strategic investments and global equities at Bank of America Merrill Lynch had on women that want to move up the corporate ladder of male-dominated financial institutions. For the music industry, Amy Kurland, founder of the famous Bluebird Cafe, was recently honored with the Frances William Preston Award at the 43rd Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame for helping to launch the careers of so many up-and-coming artists.

We are pleased to announce that President Obama recently appointed Kim Taylor as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and Margaret Russell as General Trustee of the Board of Trustees of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For the past 30 years, Kim Taylor has been a part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has served in a variety of capacities, most recently a Trustee of the BSO. Because of her contributions, the BSO has become a valuable learning tool for our youth. Margaret Russell is currently the Editor and Chief of Architectural Digest, but has mentored many in the design industry through her participation in shows like Top Design.

Both women have made a valuable contribution towards Designing the Next Generation, which has helped to nurture the talent of our youth to help them succeed.

Please remember that January is National Mentoring Month, so let’s help the youth around us!

 

george-nelson

Source: Craig Janson via Pinterest

If you aspire to have a successful career in the design industry, one of the first steps that you should take is to find a mentor. For some, the thought of finding a mentor can be overwhelming, which is why Designing the Next Generation is our mission at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Founded on the belief that we can make our rising generation better prepared and passionate about pursuing careers in creative fields through mentoring, we make it our goal to raise the awareness of positive mentoring relationships and the significant impact that they can make.

One mentoring success story that we wanted to share is between David Laufer, visual designer and author, and George Nelson, architect and industrial designer.

When Laufer was young in his career, he knew that he wanted to find a mentor and attempted to set up phone interviews with several of his design idols in hope of developing mentoring relationships. One of his those idols was George Nelson, and Laufer’s manager made him aware of an evening class that he was teaching at the Pratt Institute. After pulling some strings, Laufer was able to sit in on Nelson’s lectures and have an opportunity to build a relationship with him.

Some of the most valuable advice that Laufer learned from Nelson related to public speaking. In one of Laufer’s first one-on-one encounters with Nelson, he was told that anyone can speak eloquently in a public setting with plenty of practice. To this day, per Nelson’s advice, Laufer is constantly putting himself in situations where he is required to speak publicly. The two stayed in touch throughout the years, and Laufer credits Nelson as being one of his greatest and most influential mentors.

For more success stories about mentoring relationships, please contact me, Dawn Carroll.

 

Most of us know Linda Perry as the lead singer and primary songwriter of 4 Non Blondes, but throughout her 25 year career in the music industry, she has also composed and produced songs for Pink, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys, to name a few. Perry also has her own record label and has signed up and coming artists such as James Blunt. Now her latest venture is “The Linda Perry Project,” which will be a reality series that will premier on VH1 in the summer of 2014. It will consist of the re-launching of her record label and finding up-and-coming talent to sign and mentor.

linda-perry

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Through Perry’s new show, aspiring musicians will receive a one-of-a-kind opportunity to work directly with Perry and learn the valuable lessons that she has been taught throughout her diverse career in the music industry.

Understanding Perry’s passion for mentoring, I, alongside Creative Director Russ Mezikofsky,  recently had an opportunity to meet with her to see if she would be interested in becoming the Over My Shoulder Foundation’s next “Mentorologist.” Throughout Perry’s career, she has benefited from cross-mentoring relationships with Pink, Christina Aguilera, and a number of other musicians, which demonstrates that she too is passionate about the concept of Mentorology. Fortunately, Perry agreed to take on the role as our next Mentorologist, and we look forward to the great insight and knowledge that she will bestow on our organization.

In the meantime, we wanted to congratulate Perry for using her new show, “The Linda Perry Project” as a way to serve as a valuable mentor to a number of musicians.

To learn more about the concept of Mentorology and what you can do to become involved, contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

 

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Source: ExtraTV via Pinterest

We often share mentoring success stories from the mentee’s viewpoint; however, the concept of reverse mentorology can make the experience just as rewarding for the mentor. Well-known singer and actress Cher can attest to this when she was recently asked to be a mentor to participants on the hit reality series The Voice.

Admittedly, her role as a mentor to these up-and-coming singers required much more responsibility than she initially thought, and she was surprised at how emotionally involved she got with her mentees. Ultimately, while her mentees benefited from invaluable advice that Cher was able to offer regarding her lengthy career in the industry, Cher herself learned some important lessons from her mentees that will forever impact her own life.

It was popular country singer Blake Shelton that decided to snag Cher to mentor his team on The Voice, which was an unlikely choice considering that the two specialize in different genres of music and come from different generations. For Blake, Cher has always had a special place in his heart due to his late father’s love of Cher.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we are passionate about raising the awareness of mentorology. We believe that everyone can benefit from positive mentoring relationships, especially when they are derived across generations and cross-culturally. In Cher’s case with the young singers on The Voice, her legendary career and the experience that she gained along the way has allowed her to make a strong impact in Designing the Next Generation. She, too, benefited from this arrangement, making this an excellent example of reverse mentorology.

To learn more about the concept of mentorology, we invite you to contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. We also love to hear your personal mentoring success stories, so please share them with us!

A song gave birth to Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Now Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) is giving birth to a new song.

Four years after Patti Austin’s recording with then–13-year-old Lianna Gutierrez of “Over My Shoulder” led to the creation of a foundation to spread the gospel of mentoring, OMSF is on the verge of a new release. Get ready for “Half Filled Tear.”

“It’s about saving lives from a lifestyle of repeated violence,” said Dawn Carroll, who co-wrote “Half Filled Tear” with Boston rock legend Jon Butcher and Gidon the Mighty Warrior, a rap artist and social activist from Austin, Texas. “The lyrics were written to relate the victim’s anger and show that repeated violence is not the way.”On the first Saturday in November, Carroll and Butcher went into Q Division Studios in Somerville to record the final vocal tracks of “Half Filled Tear” with the dynamic singer/rapper Shea Rose and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Adding to the occasion was the presence of teenaged filmmakers and photographers from Wakefield, who came to document the session for a forthcoming “making of” video.

The story of “Half Filled Tear” starts back in 2009, when Carroll was brainstorming ideas for songs that would work as a duets by older mentors and younger mentees. The reaction to that song, “Over My Shoulder,” was so positive that Austin and Carroll followed up by creatingOMSF, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of mentoring. Carroll’s unused song ideas were put aside, but not forgotten.

“‘Half Filled Tear’ was one of the songs I had,” Carroll said. “I wanted to tackle the touchy, tricky subjects. I wanted to write songs and Drawing on experiences from her own life and those of the youngsters she was meeting through OMSF, Carroll decided the time was right to complete “Half Filled Tear.”create music that inspired listeners to stop the cycle of hopelessness: ‘One less tragedy’ was my mantra. I believe you can write music and create anthems that bolster self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. I believe that music can deflect some of the craziness you see on the news every night and help people focus on solving individual as well as social issues.”

“This one is a personal story,” she said. “Someone very close to me was murdered at a very young age. I went through this experience. When I started getting more involved with kids through the foundation, and we started working in the city, I heard so many stories about brutal murders. I went through just one, and I never got over it—these kids had gone through multiple traumas with little support. I could see and relate to the delicate emotional state, I knew how easy it is to become lost when dealing with this type of anger and pain. You just never get over the loss and dealing with the anger is a constant struggle. It’s a blinding blizzard of emotions that follow you after someone you love has been taken from you, violently, and that post-traumatic stress is hard to deal with.”

“Then I learned about the tattoo, usually used in gangs: the half-filled tear, carved onto someone’s face. It tells the world that someone has been violently taken from you, and that you seek revenge—and when the revenge is satisfied, the tear tattoo is colored in. This image really freaked me out. I was desperate to write the song and just prayed it would be powerful enough to stop even one future murder. Music can arouse great introspection and activism, it can inject hope into a life like nothing else.”

OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll with Jon Butcher

Carroll shared her idea for the song with Jon Butcher, who not only agreed to co-write and co-produce it, but to sing, play guitar, and engineer the song too.

“It really affected me,” Butcher said, “so I wanted to shepherd it the whole way. I was really keen to produce it and that’s what happened. To me, that image of the ‘Half Filled Tear’ symbolized how pervasive violence is in the country we live in. We have a romantic relationship to violence. And that relationship is a love-hate relationship—how we portray it in the culture, how it manifests itself in our kids and the media. That was a big subject to me.”

While working on the lyrics, Carroll and Butcher decided to add a hip hop element to try and reach a wider audience. Their search for a collaborator led them to Gidon the Mighty Warrior (real name: Christopher Ockletree), one of the founders of The Cipher, an Austin hip hop collective dedicated to uniting youth through music, poetry, and activism.

Carroll and Butcher got more than they expected from Gidon. A lot more.

“We got on a conference call with Gidon and told him the concept of the song,” Carroll said. “I told him if he needed to change any of the words, that he should feel free, and nobody would be insulted. Well he did. He rewrote the entire thing! I think there’s one of my lines left,” Carroll laughed. “He did a brilliant job. Gidon had also lost someone to a violent crime, so he knew exactly what emotions to tap into. Now it’s more his song than anybody’s. The whole rap is his.”

Dawn Carroll and the Boston Children’s Choir

They had the rap. They had the chorus. Finally, they added the voice: Shea Rose and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Their vision was complete. “Half Filled Tear” is a song that finds hope and inspiration in the depths of despair.

“I feel like the song does two things,” Rose said as she prepared to record her vocals at Q Division Studios. “It’s inspirational. And at the same time, it tells of the agony and pain that is going on in society. So it has that dark part, especially in the rap verses, but there’s also a feeling of hope in the chorus.”

Hope is exactly what “Half Filled Tear” is intended to provide, especially to those whose lives have been damaged by violence.

“When you’re struggling with feelings of revenge, you need hope. You can’t get over the shock because the crime has entered your life and left you with an emptiness and with so many questions,” Carroll said. “You need somebody to tell you, and show you, how to channel that energy, otherwise you’ll be a prisoner of it your whole life.”

Carroll expects OMSF to unveil both “Half Filled Tear” and the “making of” video in January—which, not coincidentally, is also National Mentoring Month.

“What we tried to do in ‘Half Filled Tear’,” Butcher said, “was flesh a story out in a way that touches a lot of people. I hope that we were successful—and I guess we’ll find out.”

—by Larry Katz

Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.com. Contact him at larry@thekatztapes.com.

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“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” —Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai showed the world that there is no stopping a hungry mind. At 15 years old she proved that she was willing to risk her life in the pursuit of an education. On October 9th, 2012, while riding home from school, Taliban agents stopped her car and shot Malala in the head. She survived the attack, and bravely refused to surrender her dream. Because of her courage and her dedication to the cause of education for all, Malala became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee ever. She has inspired girls around the world to pursue their goals fearlessly and NOT to let anyone get in the way of their education, or their dreams. It shows how one person can inspire change in the world.

I immediately thought of Malala when I heard the story below, written by our dynamic team member Marissa Ranahan. After you read about this uplifting example of mentorship, share the story on social media, encourage your friends and community to support the Malala Fund, and take a few moments to think about how you could make positive change in the world by becoming a mentor.

Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director

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“Mentoring someone doesn’t need to be a lifetime job. Sometimes, it can simply be a lesson that can be carried through a lifetime. This story proves that anyone, at any time, can be a mentor in their own way. It’s the little things that have the greatest impact.” —Marissa Ranahan

Copyright shadowgirl08

Those were her exact words, and I smiled as soon as she mentioned the word mentor. Since joining the team at Over My Shoulder, it seemed to me that every person I encountered had someone in their life as a mentor.I asked her quickly if she enjoyed reading, and her face lit up. She was twenty-three years old. She had a soft smile, with a brightly colored hijab wrapped tightly around her head. We started to talk about books and different genres of literature. She nodded her head in agreement and smiled as I spoke. “Can I tell you something?” she asked. “I have a mentor who taught me how to read, because I am not allowed to.”

This young woman came to America from the Middle East, where she was never taught how to read. Although she always longed to learn, she was not allowed. When a neighbor in the U.S. found out she wasn’t able to read, the woman offered to give private reading lessons, without the knowledge of her disapproving family. They met every Wednesday night in secret until the young woman’s family came home from work. When everyone was asleep, she would take out her books and practice the sentence structure her neighbor had taught her. After six months of study, she was already reading chapter books.

“To me” she said, “Reading is like a different language. After listening to it, I hungered for more, but I was restricted from reading. I consider my neighbor my mentor, my reading mentor, and a woman who had opened up new doors to my knowledge. To me, this is the best guidance I have ever received.”

The admiration she had for this woman was obvious, even in our brief encounter. I asked her what a “mentor” was in her own words—she responded, “A mentor is someone who comes into your life like a guardian angel, and helps you fulfill a passion that was missing before. It might not be for a lifetime, but as soon as you feel like someone believes in you, that feeling will carry through your lifetime.”

I haven’t seen this young lady again. But the message of her story is universal, and deserves to be heard. Anyone can be a mentor. Small acts of mentorship, like teaching one person to read, reverberate for a lifetime. The reward of helping another person is priceless.

Marissa Ranahan, Over My Shoulder team member

 

We often use our Over My Shoulder Foundation blog to recognize mentors that have truly made a positive impact on the lives of others. With this in mind, we would be remiss if we did not mention Bina Kalola, head of strategic investments and global equities at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Bina was recently awarded the title Mentor of the Year at the Wall Street Women Awards.

Kalola has reached great heights within her organization by embracing the concept of mentoring, prospering from the mentors that she has had throughout her career as well as paying it forward time and time again as a mentor to many along the way. After attending Barnard College, she entered the world of Wall Street in 1990 by way of a summer internship at Shearson Lehman.

bina-kalola

Source: Women Innovate Mobile via Pinterest

During her time there, fellow Barnard alum, Jodie-Beth Galos, sought her out and taught her the ropes of the financial world. Between discussing more technical analysis and offering the occasional inspirational talk, Galos, a senior with the organization, made a lasting impression on Kalola as a positive role model.

In 1991 Kalola joined Salomon Brothers and was fortunate to have another instrumental mentor, Tom Favia, guide her through the trading powerhouse. What she appreciated most about this relationship with Favia was that he was easily approachable a took the time to really listen to her.

Since then, Kalola herself has served as a mentor through Bank of America’s formal mentorship program and also serves as an informal mentor to many others. As she says, “My door is always open.”

Congratulations to Bina Kalola for earning her well-deserved title of Mentor of the Year! For more mentoring success stories please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation or share your own!

 

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Source: luigi diamanti via Freedigitalphotos.net

We recently shared some tips for being a good mentee, and a critical component of strengthening the mentor/mentee relationship is blocking out time to spend together. If you’re searching for activities for mentors and mentees to do together, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) offers several programs that can serve as ideal learning tools for young adults.

The BSO puts on three Family Concerts each year. For one of these concerts, Germeshuasen Family and Youth Concerts Conductor Thomas Wilkins, in partnership with pre-selected youth, will conduct the BSO. The other two concerts will be performed by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. Please note that the next family concert will take place on Saturday, November 16 at noon, and the Boston Youth Symphony will be performing.

Another way that the BSO can provide a valuable learning experience for mentees is through its high school mentorships program. High school students that participate in this unique program will have an opportunity to receive up to three meaningful coaching sessions with a BSO musician, with the program running January through May of each year. For any local high school students that are interested in learning more about this program, they can contact the BSO directly or download the application.

Regardless of age, all youth can benefit from a program offered by the BSO. As we approach the cooler and more dreary months in Boston, activities for mentors and mentees are limited, and the BSO offers a number of events throughout the year that are not only educational, but can help to cultivate the mentor/mentee relationship.

For more about mentoring through music, check out Justin Locke’s inspirational story about mentoring in the Boston Pops. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or need help finding one, please contact us at the Over My Shoulder Foundation!

All of our youth deserve the opportunity to develop into successful adults that contribute to society in a positive way. However, this is unfortunately not always the case as many of our youth lack a support system at home. One statistic that I found astounding is that only 25 percent of our youth population is actually making it through K-12 and college to achieve an academic degree.

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Source: stockimages via Freedigitalphotos.net

To demonstrate the benefits of mentoring under-served or at-risk youth, we wanted to share some of the powerful roles that these positive relationships can play in a student’s education:

  • Youth involved in a mentoring relationship are more likely to stay in school. All too often, students that lack positive role models in their lives are less engaged in school and eventually drop out of high school before graduation.
  • A study completed by the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation indicated that students that see their mentors regularly are 46 percent less likely to skip an entire day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class.
  • While many youth may not have the support system at home to assist with homework and instill good study habits, many mentoring programs are focused on enhancing students’ academic skills.
  • One of the major benefits of mentoring is that students are more likely to make better grades in school.

If we continue to live in a world where our youth do not have positive role models, you can only imagine what our country will look like in 15 years. Understanding the benefits of mentoring, there are organizations, such as The Right to Succeed, that are doing their best to fix this problem, but we still need more mentors. To learn more about becoming a mentor, please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

 

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A music internship can help you get on the right path. Source: Katie Quattlebaum via Pinterest

If you’re passionate about music and want to take your skill set to the next level, you may want to consider exploring a music mentoring program. Another way to get great exposure to the industry and learn more about potential career opportunities is to participate in a music internship. Some teachers and guidance counselors are not as familiar with advanced learning experiences in the creative area, which is why we wanted to take a moment to discuss music internships for aspiring musicians.

An internship is one of the best ways to solidify a career opportunity post-graduation, and the Dream Careers Internship Program was established with the intent of providing college students with guaranteed premier music internships. During the placement process, a Dream Internship Coordinator will be paired with a student to prepare a resume and prep for interviews to help the student put their best foot forward.

The program works closely with a large base of music companies, providing a diverse selection of potential internships for someone that is passionate about the music world (creating, performing, promoting, and more). A listing of some of the music internships that are currently available through this program can be found on the organization’s webpage.

To learn more about opportunities through the Dream Careers Internship Program, students must first be accepted into the program. To apply, you can contact Dream Careers at (800) 251-2933 or register for the program online.

If you are an aspiring musician and want to learn more about available mentoring programs to help you reach your career goals, please contact me, Dawn Carroll, at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Our mission is Designing the Next Generation, and raising the awareness of such programs available to our youth plays a big role in helping to accomplish this.