Wesleyan Panther Career Ally Program Benefits Students for a Lifetime

Kayce Dallas ’19 began the second semester of her junior year with lots of questions. “I was considering education and becoming a school counselor, but wasn’t sure, and I needed help thinking it through,” she explained. Enter Lauren (Bishop) Wood ’08, who became a mentor in the Wesleyan Panther Career Ally Program (CAP) that semester.

“When I heard about the Panther CAP, it sparked my interest,” remembered Lauren. “My professors were great, but as a graduate I realized I had an additional need as a student – someone outside the campus with similar interests who was available to answer my questions and help guide me along. I wanted to offer that support to a current student.” Lauren is a school counselor at Hopkins County Central High School in Madisonville.

Lauren and Kayce were matched, and they quickly got to know each other through texting and social media. “I felt connected to Lauren because we are both Kappa Deltas and have similar interests,” said Kayce. “After a short time, even though we hadn’t met each other yet, I realized I had a new friend.”

Kayce felt very comfortable with Lauren and asked all kinds of questions about her job. “She became a great encourager and supporter. Through our discussions, I realized I didn’t want to go the school counselor route and decided to pursue a master’s degree in social work to concentrate on helping children who have experienced trauma.”

Lauren enjoyed Kayce’s posts about her college experiences. “I was reminded of my college days at KWC, and it was fun to reminisce. Most of all, I was very impressed with her commitment to academics and to her sorority. She was a hard worker, and she was focused.”

The two finally met on Move-In Day 2018. “It meant a lot to actually meet my friend and cheerleader,” recalled Kayce. In February 2019, Lauren returned to campus and brought a group of Kappa Delta alumnae to support Kayce’s fundraising efforts for childhood cancer. Dance Purple, a dance marathon, raised over $2300 for the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic. “What an awesome event,” said Lauren. “I was so glad to be there to cheer Kayce on. She had quite a final semester. In addition to spearheading a successful Dance Purple, she was inducted to the Order of Oak and Ivy and graduated with honors.”

Kayce described the Panther CAP program as a valuable opportunity for support, guidance, networking and friendship. She will enter the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville in August and is grateful to Lauren for her help in walking through the process of applying to the program. “Lauren helped me build a bridge to the future, and I’ll never forget it,” she reflected.

As a mentor, Lauren said her role was rewarding. “I was glad I could support Kayce, and it was so easy and convenient to accomplish from home. Mentoring is a great way to give back to my alma mater and help shape a future. Panther CAP is a powerful program.”