As assistant dean of student affairs and director of student success initiatives at Berkshire Community College, George Ambriz regularly helps students at all stops in their academic journey. However, if you want him as a mentor, you need to be ready to commit to the process.
“I believe mentorship goes full circle—if you have a mentor, you should become a mentor, and keep passing that down.” he said.
That’s part of why he has served as a mentor and advisor to students in Berkshire Interns’ Inclusive Internship Preparation Program (I2P2), which helps college students from backgrounds underrepresented in the Berkshire workforce.
George’s mentors have helped him on his career path, working with him on various aspects of professional growth and cheering him on as he completes his dissertation at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He expects that kind of dedication from his mentees.
“I want to give back in the way they gave to me,” he said. “I want to make sure students are able to invest the time in being successfully mentored. I’m asking, what are your goals? How do you want to get to those goals? If you’re 21, what do you want to be when you’re 31? Let’s chip away backwards on how you can get there.”
Another reason? Representation is powerful. George, who is Latino, is originally from Arizona. He came to the majority-white Berkshires after time as employer relations coordinator at the University of Nevada and as a senior academic advisor/success coach at the College of Southern Nevada. “Latinos are few and far between in the Berkshires when you come to high-level positions, especially in higher education,” he said. “If Latino students don’t find someone who looks like them, they can feel kind of lost.”
During I2P2’s first year, George was matched with a BCC student in the program, Carlos Vizcardo-Benites. It’s worked out well so far: During the program they were frequently on campus at the same time, creating lots of opportunity for meet-ups. They are both Latinos, fluent in Spanish, and they are mutually dedicated to the mentorship process. “Carlos is the example—he does a lot, cares a lot, and knows how to balance work, school, and personal life,” George said.
Before he was an assistant dean, George was BCC’s director of academic, career advising, and transfer services. He knows a lot of the answers to questions students commonly ask about internships—what expectations should I have? If I have questions, who do I go to? What is the likelihood of this turning into a job?—and has shared them freely as part of his volunteer work with Berkshire Interns and I2P2.
He said that as a higher ed professional, he loves the way BI enhances the career readiness work done on college campuses. “I think it’s a fascinating program because in addition to individual internships, the students do other activities together, which builds a good bond,” he said. “And I2P2 lends itself to bonding for students across ethnicity, discipline, economic background, location…it has the opportunity to do so much more than a traditional career office.”