From mentee to mentor: Alumna volunteers for Mentor Program after positive experience as a student

Heather Everst Herriges ’08 knows the value of connecting with alumni while studying at Lake Forest College. She started going to the Career Advancement Center as a first-year student, and from day one worked with the staff on building her resume, networking, and participating in events, from mock interviewing to the etiquette dinner to the Mentor Program.

“I met a lot of alums throughout that process,” she said. 

Herriges, the Social Media Manager at Weber-Stephens Products in Palatine, Ill., now is a mentor of two students as part of the CAC’s Mentor Program. She was a mentee, herself, for three of the years she studied at the College and benefited from those interactions in many ways.

One of Herriges’ mentors was particularly special: the late Nancy Hurd Wolters ’70. When the two first met, Herriges was a sophomore double majoring in business and Spanish with an interest in marketing. Wolters worked in the marketing industry, so it was an appropriate match. 

Because Wolters lived in a nearby town, the two connected often.

“She met me plenty of times at Lake Forest,” Herriges said. “Meeting in person made a difference.”

When the program ended, their relationship did not. 

“We were friends,” Herriges said. “It was just natural that we would continue the conversations, especially with our shared love for Lake Forest College.”

Herriges continued to appreciate the steadfast support Wolters always offered, from pushing her to apply for positions in Chicago to talking through the job search — especially at a time when Herriges had two offers in front of her.

Wolters attended Herriges’ graduation party and was a guest at her wedding. Herriges visited Wolters in the hospital when she was sick with cancer. She also attended her wake in December 2011.

“When I got my new job, I wanted so badly to call her and share my excitement,” Herriges said. “I’ve felt that way several times.”

Herriges is determined to help current students on their career path by serving as their sounding board and support system, much like Wolters did for her. 

Alumni provide an invaluable resource for students, says Dee Dee Dolan, the CAC’s assistant director of internships and alumni programs. Sixty students are participating in the Mentor Program this semester.

“Working with current students is an extremely rewarding experience,” she said. “By sharing your professional experience and expertise, alumni are helping to set up the next generation of Foresters for success.” 

Herriges is still getting to know her mentees and, in the process of visiting them on campus, is appreciating the opportunity to see the changes at the College.

“I know how valuable the Mentor Program was for me and I can only hope to give back as much as I received,” Herriges said. “I love to be connected to the College. It was an amazing four years for me and I have benefited from everything I learned.”