Mentored John Glenn?
astronaut and senator John Glenn made history as the
first American to orbit the earth, circling the globe
three times in 1962. After his retirement from the space
program, he served in the U.S. Senate for four consecutive
terms. In 1998, Glenn, at 77 years old, became the oldest
person ever to fly in space.
Currently, Glenn heads the John Glenn Institute for
Public Service and Public Policy at Ohio State University.
I've been very curious about things all my life. My
dad was curious. And he liked to take trips -- he used
to look into all sorts of things. He used to tell me
his objective in life was to give me as many experiences
as I could as a young person.
had a high school teacher who was particularly good
at teaching. He taught civics, the study of government
and politics. And he just made it come alive. And I
used to look forward to his classes, and I was curious
about what I might be able to do some time. Never thought
I'd be able to be in high public office or anything
like that. But that curiosity that he imbued in me led
me into some directions coming out of the space program,
and I was in the Senate for 24 years.
when I was in space the second time, I was 77 when I
went up. When I came back though, I think I heard from
every old folks' organization in the United States.
And most of them were just congratulatory things, but
some of them wanted advice on things. And my best advice
I could give out of my own experience is, I think you
do better when you wake up every morning with something
you're looking forward to for that day, something productive.
And it can be anything. It can be church work, it can
be working with a civic organization, it can be mentoring
young people, helping them get a good start in life.
know, older adults sometimes just sit and do nothing,
and I think that's the worst thing they can do. They've
had a lifetime of experience, they've had education,
they've had on-the-job training, they've been business
executives, they've been farmers, they've been whatever.
They spend a lifetime learning how to do these things.
It's a shame that that has to end with them. I don't
think it has to. At the least we can have people who
take these experiences and use them to help mentor young
people into their own lives. Advise and counseling them
so that maybe they don't have to make some of the same
mistakes we made in getting through our own lives.
think a mentor gets a lot of satisfaction in a couple
of ways. They're doing something constructive, so they
feel good about that. And when they see the results
of this, with the young people they're working with,
it's very, very rewarding. And also, they have a feeling
that their own experiences aren't just ending because
they're old. They're able to sort of provide a new base
through their own experience, they provide a new base
for a young person to start from themselves. And that
gives you a great deal of satisfaction to do that.