In the June 5 feature on alumni and their mentors, PAW invited alums to write about their own stories.

I was moved by the Princeton mentors story, since I too have several wonderful mentors. To find someone beyond our own family who provides counsel and support and who believes in us when we don’t always believe in ourselves is a true gift.

One of my most treasured mentors was my thesis adviser in politics, Professor Gerald Garvey. I was always greeted with a boisterous “Come in!” as if my latest list of incessant questions and stumbling blocks was a delightful addition to his day. He could release the suffocating vice grip of the thesis process with his warmth, wit, and his sharp but comforting guidance. I quickly realized that more than wanting to be proud of my thesis, I wanted to make him proud. I’m sure I’m not the only Princetonian who sometimes felt there had been some admissions mishap in my arrival. Professor Garvey made me believe my abilities were bigger than even I could see — the gift of a great mentor.

After several visits with him during Reunions, a heartbreaking moment came when I learned of his passing. Speaking at his funeral in the Chapel — one of the great honors of my life — I reflected on the immeasurable impact Professor Garvey had on my life not just on campus, but in every achievement since. May we remind our mentors while they’re still with us what a boundless gift they are to us. 

Kendra Gahagan ’93
Boston, Mass.