The Great Power of Mentors

I found myself reflecting on my professional journey a few weeks ago. Being a first-generation university graduate, I was trying to wrap my brain around how I went from a college freshman with little to no direction to having just defended my doctoral dissertation. After some thought, I realized that the most significant impact on my journey was that of various mentors who have taken time and energy to help direct me. Some of these mentors were by happenstance, while others were more formal. As I have seen the incredible power of mentors, I have begun seeking out opportunities to both serve as a mentor and be mentored.

As a part of the ACTE National Leadership Fellowship Program, I have the great opportunity to continue my professional journey as a mentee. I have been partnered with a great leader in CTE, who is a past National Leadership Fellow to learn and grow from. I had the opportunity to interview my mentor, Dr. Indrit Vucaj, current Director of Technology and Data at the Metro Technology Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a few weeks back.

Dr. Vucaj is an Albanian immigrant who discussed how he always wanted to be an educator. In his home country, education is hailed as a prestigious career much akin to that of a medical doctor. Over the years, Dr. Vucaj has worked his way through the ranks of education from classroom teacher to CTE administrator. Our conversation centered around professional growth and what that can look like as I progress through the fellow’s program. Dr. Vucaj’s perspective on mentorship is to help guide the mentee by providing support directly in line with who he is mentoring.

Toward the end of our conversation, Dr. Vucaj and I discussed some high-level plans that involve co-presenting at various conferences and possibly co-publishing some articles. My discussion with Dr. Vucaj was inspiring and exciting. I am looking forward to continuing working with my mentor through the ACTE National Fellowship and beyond and the professional growth that will follow.


Cory Ortiz

Engineering and Technology Education Division New Professional Fellow