By Tomas Manriquez-Hernandez, Fellow Class of 2014
If am to be frank, I could fill this blog post with all the small outings I’ve undertaken with my mentors but one of the most memorable and most peculiar has been sharing the morning with one of the mentors that was never officially assigned to me. Doctor John Bales, a Daniels Scholar like myself, has taken it upon himself to keep an eye out for me and help out in any way he could. Dr. Bales is an active member of the LSYWC program and even is looking out for another mentee in the program. Our similar backgrounds made our connection instantly click when we met through the LSYWC. In the middle of my college career, when one of my mentors from another scholarship program dropped out of contact, Dr. Bales volunteered to become my official mentor. Since then he’s sent care packages including home-made cookies and brief notes of inspiration and motivation, something that I have always secretly wished for. We’ve always managed to meet up for coffee or breakfast everytime I’ve gone back home since. The most memorable day was when he decided to sneak out of the office put on some shorts and run with me from downtown to a donut shop before the rest of Denver had woken up. We chatted at a nearby park, catching up over the obvious counter-intuitive activity we’d undertaken.
Ultimately it was the variety of meetings and activities we’d shared that made him one of the most crucial people in making big decisions in my life. I have taken a page out of entrepreneur books and kept a sort of advisory board of very few people that I’ve had the pleasure of calling close friends; I actively rely on these people when I have to make a tough call. When I was met with the decision to take the LSAT at a moment where I had been bogged down by academic obligations and did not feel prepared enough, he was one of the people I called. Other adults in my life, my parents included, have no experience in this sort of problem and would not be able to offer guidance even though I’d have their full support. Doctor Bales on the other hand, asked me one of the toughest questions I’d ever heard that night: “Do you regret anything in your past four years at University?”. Although I try my best to follow through on my passions and objectives, I fall short often and ashamed I told him I did. He told it was normal for over-achievers to feel that way, which already blew my mind. But that was when he shared how he’d decided to live his life, an all the more astounding set of words. Regardless of the problem at hand he makes sure to do his very best, he eliminates all distractions, and sets one target down range. So hit or miss, he can’t hold anything against himself for trying his best: he has no regrets because he knows then that it was out of his hands. At that point I knew that I did not want to continue down this path of being overburdened and attempting life changing challenges only to fall short of my objective, something I’d made a habit of at Syracuse University. It was incredibly difficult to admit back then, and even still now, but I decided with the approval of LSYWC to take a year in between graduation and law school to study. Doctor Bales shared that he also had trouble preparing for the LSAT even so he went to Notre Dame, works at one of the top firms in Denver, and just passed the California bar, no easy feat for lawyers. To say absolute least, I’m incredibly grateful to have this caliber of connection with the people of LSYWC. Now after I graduate with a double major, a nice resume, and a good GPA I can focus on that single target. I remained undeterred thanks to my mentors.