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My Mentor Challenged My Mindset
and Changed My Life

 SDSU student Lucien Eloundou, AMP Mentee

Lucien Eloundou, who has been paired with a mentor through SDSU’s Aztec Mentor Program, shares why it is life-changing for SDSU students to have early connections with career professionals.

By Lucien Eloundou

It all started when I was 12.

My grandmother had just passed away due to complications caused by diabetes. Seeing the pain in my mother’s eyes – I wished I could do something to make her feel better. That exact same day, I decided to become a physician. My initial reasoning was that I can eliminate suffering in the world only if I knew how to accelerate the healing process.

When I moved to the U.S from Cameroon five years ago to attend college, I was convinced that being a physician was synonym to success, so I decided to study public health.

I would later come to an important realization.

Have you ever felt lost or confused, asking: What purpose do I have in life? What matters to me?

That is exactly how I felt until the day I met Jim Kalb, my first mentor through San Diego State University’s Aztec Mentor Program.

Kalb, a San Diego State University alumnus and founder and president of ‎OptiFuse, is a prominent serial entrepreneur in San Diego, owning and operating five different companies. What struck me the most was not merely his 5,000 square-foot office space in La Jolla’s tallest tower, but his humility.

It was just over a year ago. The Monday morning right before our meeting began, I recall standing in the elevator looking over the city wondering how to impress the man and earn his trust. I had arrived early and the secretary offered me a seat in the waiting area. I noticed through the glass doors of his office a casually dressed middle-age man, serving coffee to everyone in the office. There was Kalb performing his daily morning ritual. I was absolutely astonished. I would never have guessed that the CEO himself would take the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to serve coffee to every single one of his employees. As he was walking towards me with a giant smile on his face and a gentle look in his eyes, I suddenly felt less agitated.

Author Judith Rich describes “Sputnik Moments” as specific life events that open our eyes to reality, and reshape our core values and world views. Rich claims that there are various ways to interpret life events. Essentially, what she means is that often times what we may perceive as adversity in our lives could actually be a blessing in disguise. Sputnik moments, if properly interpreted, can help us see beyond our own limitations and raise our awareness that everything that happens to us really happens “for” us.

Before I met Kalb, I did not really know how to express my burning desire to become a successful person. I experienced a Sputnik moment, or defining moment, when I had a deep conversation with Kalb about the meaning of “success” in life.

That day I visited Kalb at his office, I asked why he serves coffee to his employees. He said something along the lines of, “Always remember, son, healthy relationships are what really make us happy.” My view of a traditional “boss” as someone who is in a position of power and is rarely accessible to employees, unless they are part of the middle management team, suddenly changed.

Kalb and I talked for about an hour. He began by telling me about his humble beginnings and how he completely turned his life around simply by changing his mindset from a consumer mentality to a producer in society. I told him I aspired to become a healthy, wealthy and happy man like he appeared to be. I also told him that I had a strong desire to make a difference in the world, but was not certain how to go about achieving that goal. I asked two key questions: How do you define success in life? What is the secret to happiness? The first thing he said to me is to have faith, and never worry about the “how.” In fact, he said I should only strive to find out “what impact I want to make.” He also said success is a journey, a quest, a mindset. He said success is doing what makes the most sense to you.

I left with the understanding that success may have nothing to do with financial success, although money is an important tool in the process. True prosperity is a state of mind. It is knowing that you are doing what your heart most desires. Success is living a life of purpose and as long as you are aware that you are moving in the right direction, do not hesitate to pursue your dreams.

At the end of our conversation, I felt extremely energized and empowered. I realized that the true reason why I wanted to become a physician was to comply with family pressure. I came to the realization that I can make a greater contribution in the world by founding a company offering products and services that improve the quality of the lives of a large amount of people.

Now I ask: Have you embraced your defining moments yet?

Lucien Eloundou is a San Diego State university senior set to graduate in May 2018 with a degree in health sciences with an emphasis in public health and a minor in leadership development. This fall, Eloundou was paired with Ronald Brillantes - Business Analyst at Rady Children's Hospital, who is serving as his mentor through the Aztec Mentor Program. Eloundou encourages others to get involved, as the program’s mentors help students prepare for their profes-sional lives, and challenge them to broaden how they see and are in the world. SDSU students are encouraged to attend informational events about the program, to be held Oct. 2 and 3, both from noon to 1 p.m. in SDSU’s Career Services (SSE 1200). Students can also sign up for the program online:


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