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Alumni Spotlight: Cordell Minnifee and Paul Valentine – The Power of Mentorship

After graduating with a liberal arts degree in 2019, esteemed St. Mary’s University alumnus Cordell Minnifee reached out to the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association to ask about being set up with a mentor. As a current alumni ambassador and a retired Lightning athlete, Cordell has always been actively involved in the StMU campus community and was looking for further guidance as he launched his career.

November 30, 2022

St. Mary's University | Alumni, News, News and Events

Cordell believed it was crucial to seek a mentor, because, as he explains “the most successful people I knows or have read about all speak at length about the benefits of having a mentor.” Cordell felt it would be a beneficial opportunity to find someone who has already achieved his career goals and personal ambitions.

Another reason that Cordell sought a mentor was that he knew the person would be removed from his innermost circle. Therefore, the mentor could offer a new perspective and unbiased advice as he entered this next phase of his life as a young grad.

Ultimately, Cordell was paired with Paul Valentine, a treasured StMU donor and owner of several Calgary car dealerships, including Valentine Volvo, as a mentor. They have now been working together for over a year and have each benefited from this mentorship.

While at StMU, Cordell played on the Lightning Men’s Basketball Team Cordell explains the mentorship under Paul has been insightful and transformative. “This amazing opportunity presented itself at a time when I had some challenging and pressing career choices to make. Paul was able to provide me with advice that gave me confidence in my decisions,” he says.

A major takeaway from this mentorship for Cordell is to be always curious. From their interactions so far, Cordell has learned to ask himself reflective questions when faced with important decisions. In addition, these insights showed him the importance of aligning himself with others who share his similar core values.

Cordell says that his experience being mentored by Paul has been an incredible opportunity. “Paul is extremely easy to talk to and open with his thoughts. I look forward to continuing to learn from someone who can help to guide me in my future endeavours,” he says.

“The mentorship program is an important component to growth,” says Cordell. He believes it’s essential to align yourself with individuals with similar values; as this presents an opportunity to learn from someone successful in living the very same values you hold close as significant.

“For those considering becoming a mentor, I would say that they can alter a young grad’s future by providing simple insights into how they overcame similar adversity. They can provide youth with somewhat of a road map for challenges and how to approach obstacles which, in my opinion, is key to growth,” he explains.

Paul saw participating in our mentorship program as an opportunity to provide guidance and make new connections. “If I can help the youth of today to avoid some of the mistakes I made throughout my life, why wouldn’t I?” he explains. “The mistakes from our past can make for some great learning opportunities in the future.”

Through mentoring Cordell, Paul says he learned some new things himself. “I really enjoyed this opportunity; not only did I make a new friend, but I had the privilege of listening to his journey. I always love to hear how people got to where they are today,” he says.

Paul has been a close friend of StMU for many years.

Paul gives Cordell guidance by providing examples from his life of where he made both right and wrong decisions, and what he would do differently if he could go back in time. He explains that this is not expert advice, “just an example of reality, the real world.”

The opportunity to mentor Cordell has been incredibly special to Paul. “It truly is an honour. I can’t even get my own kids to listen to me most days,” he jokes. Throughout this unique mentorship opportunity, Paul has come to learn more about himself, by realizing he has lived a much busier and more exciting life than he would have thought just a year ago. “I have had far more relevant experiences to share than I ever imagined,” says Paul.

Are you a community member who is interested in mentoring a St. Mary’s student or alumni? St. Mary's University is always looking for new mentors who are looking to provide guidance and help our students and alumni as they explore career opportunities, set new goals, develop contacts, and grow their network.

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