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Frasier Global Mentorship Program empowers students through travel experience

Sustainable Fashion Forum. Pictured are program alumni (from left to right) Kelsey Ouellette, Ana Walters, and Jenna Curran

Mentorship program alumni (from left to right) Kelsey Ouellette, Ana Walters and Jenna Curran attended the Sustainable Fashion Forum. Photo courtesy Jenna Curran

September 14, 2023

For Jenna Curran, a recent graduate of the College of Global Futures, a bachelor’s degree was not the only thing she gained from her time at Arizona State University. As a mentee in the Frasier Global Mentorship Program, Curran said she learned invaluable lessons on real-world leadership, honed her networking skills and gained a heightened understanding of what a career in sustainability could really look like.

The Frasier Global Mentorship Program offers ASU College of Global Futures students and professional sustainability practitioners, like Curran, the opportunity to engage in an insightful mentorship experience. Students are paired with a mentor to gain insights in their desired field before they join the workforce.

Selected mentees are given an expenses-paid trip to participate in an approved ASU international experience or to visit their mentor on-site. Curran, who was paired with Nike’s Traceability Program Director Cameron Childs, attended a sustainable fashion conference in April with fellow mentee Ana Walters.

“Going to the conference was really eye-opening for me,” Curran said. “There were so many people there, from fashion journalists to textile chemists, and it was so incredible to meet a broad range of people in the industry all present at this conference working towards the same goal.”

As a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability, Curran now works in the nonprofit sector, where she applies the lessons she learned through the Frasier Mentorship Program to her day-to-day work. Her takeaways from the experience align with program founder Curtis Frasier’s vision when he started the program in 2019: to translate classroom learning into the workplace.

“What I saw when I was graduating school myself was that employers often just wanted to see that you could wake up and get to work, and they would train you on how to do the job,” Frasier said. “It was assumed that you had not been prepared by your college education to perform actual work in the real world. This program aims to bridge the gap that can exist between the classroom and the workplace.”

Connecting these two spaces can sometimes be an easy task through pre-graduation exposure to working professionals. At a meeting with the program mentees, Frasier said lessons taught in class might not always “click” for students until they see it in real time.

“Sometimes you find out that you learned these concepts in school, but at the time, you didn’t know what it was or how to apply it,” he said. “Seeing the lessons in action is really valuable.”

Frasier said that living abroad for a total of seven years was enormously enlightening to both himself and his wife, Pamela.

“It’s natural to see the world through the lens of our own personal experience; in our case, that experience was far narrower than we had thought,” he said. “The more we traveled, the more we knew how little we knew.”

This led the Frasiers to include the travel experience in this program to share that opportunity with students. Mentees have traveled to places such as Ecuador, Switzerland and Belize through the Frasier Global Mentorship Program. Curran said the program offered insights into general leadership skills that could apply to any career, a value she had not fully expected when she joined as a mentee.

“It was inspiring for me, as a woman, to see Cameron be assertive in her role,” she said. “Cameron emphasized the importance of people skills, and something I took away from the program is that you can be firm and make it clear that you’re motivated, and it isn’t a bad thing to do so.”

Two men seated and smiling at the camera.

W. Troy Weisler (left) and Vance Merolla met in person at the Greenbiz conference. Photo courtesy W. Troy Weisler

W. Troy Weisler, another participant in the program and a recent graduate with a master’s degree in sustainability leadership, said the guidance he received from his mentor also went far beyond his expectations. Vance Merolla, senior vice president of global sustainability with Colgate Palmolive Company, met Weisler at the sustainability conference Greenbiz, where Merolla personally introduced Weisler to a series of experts across multiple sectors in sustainability.

As the New Mexico State Police chief, Weisler said he might have been the only person with a background in law enforcement at the conference. Though he said he does not have a “traditional” career in the sustainability world, Weisler said his mentor encouraged him to stay within the criminal justice field and implement sustainability practices in his work.

“That was one of my biggest takeaways from this program,” he said. “Sustainability isn’t just one field, but a way of thinking and a practice that can and should be implemented across all fields.”

The College of Global Futures is a part of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. Students interested in applying for the Frasier Global Mentorship Program can view requirements and apply here.

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