Bloch Mentoring Program Celebrates Successful First Year

Program gives valuable insight into life after college
Elena Eckwell and Sydney Manning stand together in discussion with an open book on a counter in front of them

The Bloch School took its focus on mentoring opportunities to an exciting new level with the launch of a schoolwide mentoring program open to all students. This new initiative is designed to serve students from all walks of life, from first-generation college students to working professionals earning their MBA.

“Mentoring can be transformational with individuals across all industries and business functions, so it’s important that there are options for students interested in a variety of business areas,” said Ashley Nance, professional development manager for the Bloch School. “This program is also a fantastic way for alumni to give back to the university and pass along key lessons to future business leaders.”

The program launched as a pilot in Fall 2021, with 87 students and 68 mentors participating. The goals are to add 150 student matches each semester and create a pool of more than 500 mentors within the first year. The program uses a sophisticated algorithm through UMKC’s Roo Network alumni platform to match students and mentors, who then set up connections.

“Our mentors and mentees are encouraged to interact in whatever way it makes sense for them. A majority of pairs choose to communicate through phone, email, text or video chat, but some connect in person as well,” Nance said.

One of the initial matches paired student Elena Eckwall with mentor Sydney Manning, a marketing specialist at JE Dunn Construction.

“As a transfer student coming into UMKC, I wanted to get involved with a program that could help connect me to professionals in the Kansas City area,” Eckwall said. “Marketing is an area where the possibilities are endless, and I wanted to learn what it’s like navigating through this field right out of college.”

The algorithm matched Eckwall with a mentor who not only works in her field of study, but also shares other common interests and values.

“At our first meeting, it didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable with Sydney. I instantly felt that she was committed to developing the relationship,” Eckwall said. “She took the time to give thoughtful and meaningful answers to my questions. She also made it easy to bond and have fun in our meetings.”

When Manning first heard about the program, her immediate thought was “how much I wished I had this program when I was a student.”

“As a student, it was hard for me to see past college or what my life would look like in a few years. Everyone was so focused on what their dream job was or what their 10 year plan was, when I was still trying to figure out where I would be in six months,” Manning recalled. “Being able to offer my unique perspective as a young professional was very interesting to me.”

Eckwall derived significant value from the mentoring program.

“Learning about how Sydney navigated through college and onto work at JE Dunn helped me reflect on steps I need to take moving toward my future,” she said. “She taught me the value of networking and of taking opportunities when they arise.”

Mentor-mentee pairs are formally matched for four months, but manystudents and mentors have continued to meet beyond that period. The Bloch Mentoring Program is open to all, from early-career professionals to seasoned leaders.

Those interested can email Ashley Nance at for more information or sign up through the Roo Network alumni platform.

Learn more about Henry W. Bloch School of Management

Published: Jul 20, 2022

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