To the Editor:
In academia, a mentor most often is an individual who guides a student, or protégé, through research. It is a technical term, one that often represents a professional duty: a student will be assigned – or chooses – a mentor based on research interests. In my undergraduate career at St. John’s University, I had [a] mentor: he was not assigned to me, though, nor did he have a contractual obligation to take on the role, but he did.
Dr. Roger Wetherington, Ph.D., the director of the journalism department at St. John’s University was my undergraduate mentor; and so unique about the relationship was that he chose to be my academic guide.
When hearing about his untimely passing this summer, I was shocked and saddened, for Dr. Wetherington was a giant: in the journalism department; in academia; and in print journalism.
Dr.Wetherington guided me through my undergraduate years at St. John’s: he always pushed me to reach my goals; he was always there to answer a question, or did what he did best: guide. I first met Dr. Wetherington during my freshman year in the journalism department, as I peppered him with questions relating to an internship. Our academic relationship grew from there, and we would often meet to talk – about journalism, the state of the media, about politics, and our conversations would last – literally – hours. Indeed, I fondly remember standing in front of Bent Hall one night into the late evening, finally getting on my way home after hours of speaking. That was Dr. Wetherington: always willing to help, to chat, and to guide.
He gave me recommendations; he made calls; he went the extra mile for me, and he was never asked to – he never really had to – but he did.
I was lucky enough to have had the chance to meet Dr. Wetherington, and to be one of his mentees. The St. John’s community and print journalism lost a great man. As I am sure is the case with the countless students he encountered over his many years in academia, his words and caring touch will be vivid in my memory forever. At his memorial service in August, it was wonderful to see and hear from so many of the people he touched, both professionally and personally, in the same room together.
He was a giant, and I am a better man for knowing Dr. Wetherington. And it is for that micro reason it is ensured that his memory will live on. Jay Mundy’08 B.S., ’10 M.A.