Looking Back, Looking Forward

Student Mentoring Program Enters 17th Year

By: Dan Voss and Mike Murray
STC Fellows
Florida Chapter, STC

Welcome to the second installment of Looking Back, Looking Forward, a new column that appears periodically in Memo to Members. This column showcases articles and other documents generated by members of the STC Florida Chapter over our community’s 41-year history that still bear relevance to our community’s operations today and into the future.

In our September 2019 LBLF column, we are looking back at three articles that captured the establishment and growth of the STC Florida Chapter’s benchmark student mentoring program, co-sponsored with the Future Technical Communications (FTC) club at the University of Central Florida (UCF).

The highly successful program, founded in 2003 by the Orlando Chapter with FTC and UCF, is presently looking forward to its 17th year, about to get underway under the guidance of Education Committee manager Misty Arner and FTC president and chapter liaison Amy Truong.

In its first 16 years, the student mentoring program has generated 141 mentor/mentee pairings in which professional practitioners within the chapter have guided technical communication students at UCF as they have embarked on their careers.

It’s a Quadruple Win!

The student mentoring program has proven to be a win-win situation both personally and organizationally. Mentees get valuable practical professional development advice and job placement assistance they are not likely to get in the classroom. Mentors get the satisfaction of helping groom the next generation of technical communicators and they also benefit from seeing what ideas newcomers bring to the industry. The UCF technical communications (tech comm) program and FTC benefit from the professional expertise of many of our chapter members. And our chapter is assured of a steady pipeline of fresh volunteer talent that has played a major role in the extraordinary success of our community over the past 17 years.

You can read about the student mentoring program under the Education tab on our chapter website. Over the years, it has been emulated by several other STC geographic communities. The program guidelines and the various tools used to administer the program are available to all STC communities in the Community-Building Toolkit on our website.

Reaching Out to UCF

The first article about our mentoring program, “Bridging the Gap Between Industry and Academe,” was written by its co-founders, Orlando Chapter Education Committee Manager Dan Voss and FTC President Bonnie Spivey. The article was published in the Proceedings to the 52nd international STC conference (now called the Summit) in Seattle in 2005, in conjunction with a presentation delivered by Bonnie and Dan.

Reaching Across the Atlantic

The second article, «Un Programme de Mentorat International? Mais Oui, C’est Possible! Absolument!», tells an inspiring story of a trans-Atlantic virtual mentoring partnership that led directly to the establishment of a student mentoring program between the STC France Chapter and the University of Paris-Diderot modeled on the “Orlando model.” Coauthored by STC France Secretary Clio Fouque, then a student at the University of Paris, and Dan Voss, who met at the 56th international STC conference in Atlanta in 2009, the article was published in the Proceedings to the 57th international STC conference in Dallas in 2010. Clio and Dan’s mutually enriching and organizationally fruitful mentoring partnership offers a promising paradigm as our student mentoring program seeks to add a virtual dimension as it extends to other universities in Florida over the next several years.

Reaching Across the Society 

The third article, “STC Student Mentoring Programs: Investing in the Future,” was written by Bethany Bowles and Dan Voss for the 15th annual STC-India conference in Varca, Goa, in 2013, and published in the STC-India newsletter Indus in third quarter 2013. The article recaps the history of our chapter’s student mentoring program and chronicles Bethany and Dan’s 3-year tour of duty with the Society’s Committee Affairs Committee (CAC) as task leaders in the student member outreach program. The pair co-presented at Leadership Day at the 59th and 60th international STC conferences in Toronto in 2012 and Atlanta in 2013, respectively—in both cases distributing both printed and soft media copies of a comprehensive reference guide on student mentoring programs that other STC geographic communities have used to establish and sustain student mentoring programs.

Coming Attraction:

Watch for the next installment of Looking Backing, Looking Forward in the November edition of Memo to Members, where we’ll be looking at communication strategy past, present, and future.


Looking Back, Looking Forward

By: Dan Voss and Mike Murray
STC Fellows
Florida Chapter, STC

History has an uncanny way of repeating itself.

Welcome to Looking Back, Looking Forward, a new column that will appear periodically in Memo to Members. This column will showcase landmark articles and other documents generated by members of the STC Florida Chapter over our community’s storied 41-year history.

Fear not, younger members—this is not going to be an eye-glazingly soporific forced march down Nostalgia Lane by tribal elders pontificating from our creaking rocking chairs.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

As chapter historian, Mike Murray has been sifting through hundreds of documents and organizing them into a coherent archive of the chapter’s history. In the process, he has unearthed a treasure trove of materials that remain remarkably relevant today.

We plan to exhume some of these gems from the chapter crypt, dust off the cobwebs, and take another look at them decades later.

So here we go.

We are launching the new column with an article Mike wrote for Memo to Members back in 2003—the year our community won the first of what would be an unprecedented and never equaled nine Community of Distinction Awards in STC’s annual Community Achievement Awards (CAA) evaluation. The article is entitled “The Road to Distinction.”

What could possibly be more apropos as we celebrate the chapter’s first award in the Society’s new CAA structure, which replaces the historical Merit-Excellence-Distinction progression with a Bronze-Silver-Gold-Platinum sequence?

Having abstained from the CAA process for the past 4 years for reasons beyond our control that we will not go into here, in reentering it we were hoping to come home with a Gold Award—the equivalent of the nine Chapter of Distinction Awards we won in the past.

But no—we went straight to the top, landing the coveted, hard-to-achieve Platinum Award, which was presented to former chapter president, now STC Board of Director member, Bethany Aguad, at STC’s 66th annual International Conference (Summit) in Denver at Leadership Day on May 5.  On top of that, we also brought home our chapter’s third Pacesetter Award for our innovative Leadership Development Program (LDP) that grooms future chapter and Society leaders.

As you read “The Road to Distinction” from 2003, we believe you will be amazed at how easily this could be “The Path to Platinum.”

The key is an unflagging Commitment to Excellence that has characterized our STC community since its inception in 1978. Excellence is, and always has been, one of our chapter’s core values. It’s in our DNA.

So, we tribal elders who paved the Road to Distinction 16 years ago take off our hats to the young leaders who have carried on our community’s Commitment to Excellence on the Path to Platinum.

Without further ado, then, here is Mike Murray’s eerily familiar “The Road to Distinction,” freshly disinterred from the archival crypt.

Déjà vu!

We think you will agree—in this case history has, indeed, repeated itself!