When André Lynch ’07 crossed the stage at commencement to accept his Master of Business Administration (MBA), he thought his educational journey was complete. But he’d also thought that before—when he earned his BS in Business Administration in 2006. He never expected his thoughts on the plane ride home would lead him back to Walden to pursue his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).
It was his first conversation with Dr. Walter McCollum, who has become his mentor and doctoral study chair, that set him on the path to becoming a lifelong learner. “The day of my MBA graduation, he approached me and asked if I had ever considered pursuing a doctoral degree,” Lynch says. “He made me think about how a terminal degree would lead to even more opportunities.”
His previous degrees had helped him land the position of senior business analyst for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in 2009, where he was recently promoted to manager, but now it seemed imperative that he do more—specifically by earning a doctorate and becoming a mentor.
Mentorship is threaded through Lynch’s life. His grandmother encouraged him to excel in school, and when he enrolled at Walden, he found a similar network of support. “The mentorship at Walden has been the greatest value,” he says. “It’s consistent, ongoing, empowering, and encouraging. It’s a network that has provided a wealth of resources.”
The relationships he’s developed at Walden fuel his passion for mentoring young people, especially teenagers and people in his church who are at the start of their careers. “My mentees are looking for guidance on the ins and outs of assimilating into corporate culture,” Lynch explains. “I teach them about proper business acumen and behavior that make it easier to succeed.”
Lynch offers advice on how to enter and acclimate to corporate life, from researching industries and learning from successful leaders to building a résumé and having it reviewed by someone in that business. “I’ll even buy a young man a tie and teach him about how corporate attire can help you advance. I’ll also ask him to pass the same skill on to at least two others,” he says.
His goal is also to inspire his mentees, which is why he shares videos of Walden commencements. “I typically advise 10 to 20 young people who dream of earning a degree. When they see my colleagues walk across the stage, they realize it’s a dream that can come true,” he says.
His doctoral proposal also intersects with his volunteerism. “I’m examining the impacts of diversity and inclusion on corporate culture,” Lynch explains. “How do mentorship and networking help people succeed? How do these relationships increase their opportunities and allow them to share their own perspectives?”
Dr. McCollum’s mentorship has been extremely fruitful. Lynch even contributed a chapter to Dr. McCollum’s Breakthrough Mentoring in the 21st Century. In it, Lynch discusses how the success of mentorships relies on participation from both parties. Although his role is to set expectations and inspire his mentees, he’s often also positively influenced by what he learns from them. “Sharing and learning are often the most intangible benefits I’ve encountered,” he explains in the book.
Lynch is always looking for new opportunities. After he finishes his doctoral work, he plans to formalize his mentorship program, enlist role models, and reach out to a wider audience who would benefit from mentorship. His ultimate goal is to combine his passion for business and academia to enhance the lives of others. “These experiences have been empowering and encouraging,” he says. “Walden has positioned me to succeed in the business world and transformed me into a mentor.”
Share why you’ve returned to Walden for another degree at myWaldenImpact@waldenu.edu.