Volunteer-Erin Harris (960x480)

Mentor Spotlight: Erin Harris

May 2, 2024

The educational legacy of the Ursulines of Brown County played an important role in Erin Harris’ life when she attended Chatfield College as a high school student. Now, she continues to play in important role in that legacy as a mentor with The Chatfield Edge.

Erin earned her associate degree in business administration from Chatfield College by the time she graduated high school and the went on to earn her BA in marketing and finance from Wilmington College. After working in banking for eight years, she realized her true calling was in education, so she returned to the classroom to complete an MA in education from Mt. Vernon Nazarene University in 2010.

Two years later, she landed her dream job as the Director of the Susan Sargen Student Enterprise Program (StEP) at the Alpaugh Family Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati. As the director of this nationally recognized program, Erin focuses on helping students gain 21st century skills related to entrepreneurship, critical thinking, and financial responsibility. Throughout the year, students in 24 tri-state area schools form classroom businesses where they decide on product lines and marketing strategies and interview for leadership roles in their companies. Then they produce hundreds of items to sell to their peers at the program’s culminating event, Market Madness. The annual spring event draws more than 1500 students to UC’s campus.

Erin realizes that her role in the field of education is not typical yet when she saw a social media post about the need for mentors at The Chatfield Edge, she knew she wanted to help shape future teachers.

“As someone who works in education, I am concerned about the turnover in the field and see mentoring as a chance to help education majors understand the realities of their future career,” Erin reflected. “Teaching is a hard profession, and I didn’t have a mentor when I was starting out.”

A parent of two children, one in high school and one in college, Erin believes young people need non-parental adults to support their journeys.  She acknowledges that parenting and mentoring are different, yet she draws on her parenting as a mentor.

“Back when I was 18-20, it seemed like a normal age to pick a career,” she said. “Now as a parent, I think it’s a lot to put on someone that age. I ended up changing my career and I wish someone had told me back then that it was okay.”

She also recognizes that the landscape of education is different from when she entered the field.

“It’s rigorous and there’s a greater focus on teaching around standardized tests. Technology plays a significant role in the classroom and, coming out of the pandemic, student behavior is very different,” she noted. “As a mentor, it’s refreshing to see young educators like my mentee, Destiny, and her roommate. They give me hope for the future of education.”

When asked what advice she would offer someone who is thinking about mentoring, she said, “Do it, even if you think you don’t have enough to contribute. Just as a working adult, you have way more to offer than you think and can help students with their expectations for the future.”

The Chatfield Edge is growing and needs more mentors like Erin to accompany its first-generation and non-traditional students who are enrolled in college, trade school, and certificate programs. Training is provided for mentors who meet with students about four times each semester to encourage them along their path to gain success in life through education. To find out more or to sign up to be a mentor, contact David Hesson, Director of Programs, at david.hesson@chatfieldedge.org or call 513-875-3344 x 115.