The Evolution of a Mentor

8491601549_67b0c5d03d_nDuring my career, I have experienced mentoring from both ends of the spectrum: where I have been mentored and where I have done the mentoring.  I feel that I have also experienced a point in between those two: being a role model.

Harold as mentee                                                             At the beginning of my career, I was blessed to work for and with some exceptional people that were very knowledgeable and confident in what they did, so they never hesitated to share their knowledge.  I was instructed on troubleshooting methods and procedures and even given advice on career paths and personal matters.  Exceptional people continued to cross my path as I continued my career here at Argonne.  These mentors contributed to my character building and who I am today.

Harold as role model                                                                                                                   I remember some years back, my supervisor was reading a news article about a murder that took place in Chicago and he asked me, “Why do you stay in the city?” My response was, “My family, my friends, and my lifestyle revolve around the city and it’s my belief that some of the negative effects in the city are a result of people moving to the suburbs once they get to a position where they can have a positive influence on their communities.”  My decision to stay in the city has been very gratifying for me; I’ve taught Sunday School, I’ve coached little league baseball, biddy basketball, and supervised a weeklong Children’s Christian Summer Camp program in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for the last 17 years.

I have watched some of the young people turn into fine young men and women. What really touches my soul is when youth I have worked with share with me how much my involvement in their lives has had a positive effect on them.

Harold as mentor

9553874549_7b6cb34db5_nIt’s always been my desire to have a positive influence on youth – especially inner city youth – so I joined with some guys that I grew up with to participate in a program called “Black Men Caring and Sharing.”  We mentor 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at the elementary school that we attended, Paul Revere.  Our goal is to give them some of the things they will need to be successful in life.  Students from Paul Revere have visited Argonne on three different occasions over the last five or six years.  This experience was good exposure for those students.

Working with the African American/Black Club has provided me with numerous opportunities to mentor by visiting high schools on Career Days to encourage the students to pursue curriculums in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics.

 Mentoring for me is a way to give back what has been shared with me.


Harold E. Gaines is an Engineering Specialist in the Biosciences Division.  Mr. Gaines is an instrumentation engineer with expertise in troubleshooting equipment including centrifuges, water baths, stirrers, hot plates, and incubators. He has been dedicated to his work at the lab for over 39 years. Mr. Gaines is President of the African American/Black Club and has been an active member of the club since its inception.

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Argonne Today is a daily publication of Argonne National Laboratory intended for employees and facility users. It provides information on science and engineering results; awards and funding opportunities; employee benefits, safety, wellness, diversity, leadership and career development; and seminars, conferences, symposia, professional events and club activities.
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