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Marissa Davis '08 Extolls Richard Rubin Mentoring Program

Marissa Davis '08 Extolls
Richard Rubin Mentoring Program 

by Alisa Giardinelli

"For the past two years, I have had the privilege of being a part of the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program," says Marissa Davis '08. "What initially began as an effort to foster a mentor/mentee relationship between current students and alumni blossomed into far more than that for me. It has been through these relationships that I have been able to not only survive, but thrive at Swarthmore.

Deb Kardon-Brown and Marissa Davis '08

Deb Kardon-Brown and Marissa Davis '08


"Through my deep involvement with the Lang Center, I first met Assistant Director of Student Programs Deb-Kardon Brown as a freshman. Now, as a just-graduated senior, I am grateful for her continued support. Whether it was an idea for my continued work in New Orleans or a simple conversation to catch-up, her listening ear has meant a lot to me.

"It has been through the tireless commitment to education and teaching of my other mentor, Associate Professor of History Allison Dorsey, that I have been able to take my seat as another respected scholar. She challenged me to think critically about the world in a way that was truly my own. Without these two ladies and my many other "unofficial" Richard Rubin mentors at Swarthmore, the road to success would have been a little more bumpy.

"When it was time to choose my professional mentor for the Rubin internship, Wilma Lewis '78 was the first on my list. I knew she was a successful lawyer in D.C., the first African American woman to be appointed U.S. Attorney for D.C., and hailed from the Caribbean island of St. Thomas (the second-best island in the world, second to Jamaica where I'm from - no biases there!)

"I had my own expectations before the internship even started, but meeting her met all of them and more! I recall the first day when I entered the office. I sat down before her, surrounded by the accolades and accomplishments on her walls. After more than three hours of sitting and talking with her, I realized that for her, those accolades were not her greatest accomplishments. She appreciated the recognition, but in fact, took more pride in her personal life, as the greatest daughter, church sister, and friend. Beyond that, she was driven by her desire to achieve excellence in all areas of her life.

"I distinctly remember one of the quotes on her wall that I have taken with me for the rest of my life: 'Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.' That is what I wish to do in all of my personal, academic, and vocational endeavors. She was also driven by a vow to keep the promise she made years ago: No matter how respected and revered she may become, she should always be the same ol' Wilma. That was one of the greatest lessons she taught me and I thank her for that.

"So, in a nutshell, the Richard Rubin program was one of the greatest experiences for me not only because it made it easier for me to connect with people, but because it offered a model through which I could develop my own support systems that would serve me even after Swarthmore. If ever given the opportunity to be a part of a program like the Richard Rubin Mentoring Program, I would undoubtedly do it within a heartbeat. I just can't wait until I am the Deb Kardon-Brown, Allison Dorsey, and Wilma Lewis for someone else!"


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