Universities across the nation recognize the need to help students go from graduation to their next steps: graduate school and entering their professions.
Graceland’s GU4U mentoring program is up to speed with the trend and officially started over a year ago. It now has an official name, a page on the website, and dedicated organizers to help with facilitating and pairing.
Graceland alumni are eager to share with their fellow Gracelanders. They know that Graceland produces inspired graduates who are well prepared for their next steps, and they want to help them open doors. But, in reality, Graceland has been involved with mentoring for generations. Here is just one series of examples; there are countless others.
Tara Sheehy ’17 was mentored by Ginelle Sakina-Roberts ’01, who was mentored by John Smith ’70, who was mentored by Dennis Sacry, who attended Graceland from 1965-67 and was mentored by his uncle, Gayle Sacry ‘56. Graceland roots run deep and strong.
Tara Sheehy will attend UMKC’s dental school this fall. At SPEC, Community of Christ's youth camp, she met Doug Roberts, who introduced her to his wife, Ginelle Sakina-Roberts. Tara later interned with Ginelle as a dental assistant, who then helped her through the entire application process for dental school.
Ginelle Sakina-Roberts’ parents were good friends with John and Ruth Smith. After her junior year at Graceland, Ginelle decided to stay in Kansas City to study for the MCAT, the medical school admissions exam. John and Ruth offered her a room in their home while she spent the summer studying. She was also given the opportunity to work as a dental assistant in John's office. “I didn't know anything about dentistry or what I was doing,” Ginelle admits. “(John) and his very patient staff guided me as I learned how a dental office operates.
I loved it.” After just two weeks, Ginelle decided to switch her exam prep to the DAT, the dental admissions test.
John Smith was unsatisfied with his career as an Air Force pilot and was at a witnessing weekend in Texas when he saw pictures of his Graceland Agape House brother Dennis Sacry practicing dentistry in Honduras. He prayed for direction, and the doors opened with Graceland’s contacts there to smooth out the process of entering a new career path. He applied to dental school, and the admissions director at the dental school was Bob Fry ’70. Bob had a short chat with John and got him on track for a career in dentistry.
“ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT GRACELAND IS THE COMMUNITY THAT IT OFFERS AND THE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO ESTABLISH, NOT ONLY WITH THE FACULTY AND STAFF, BUT ALSO WITH THE PEER STUDENTS AND EVEN THE ALUMNI.”
~Tara Sheehy `17
Dennis Sacry attended Graceland for two years, 1965-67, and wanted to go into a medical field like his uncle Dr. Gayle Sacry ’56. Gayle mentored and encouraged his nephew to attend Graceland, following the family heritage. Dennis and John became lifelong friends while at Graceland and have a scheduled golf trip in July. Family and friends intertwined even further, when Dennis’ sister married his roommate!
Graceland alumni make connections across generations. The relationships made on “the Hill” run strong, and the students at Graceland still find this to be true. The GU4U alumni mentoring program is just the tip of a giant iceberg of mentoring that has been going on since the beginning, in 1895.
"My path to this career was miraculous, with Graceland friends helping along the way."
~ John Smith `70
Dennis Sacry and John Smith `70
"I have often thought of John as my career ‘dad.’ I love that he and my dad have had a friendship since their years together at Graceland. The Graceland connection is real and extends to the next generation in so many ways."
~ Ginelle Sakina-Roberts `01