Mentoring 365 Project: Justice Alan Page

March 9, 2015
Justice Alan Page

Justice Alan Page

“The possibilities to [mentor] are endless, limited only by one’s imagination.”

– Justice Alan Page

Justice Alan Page was first elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992. Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice Page was a defensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings during the 1970’s. His path to success is one to truly be admired. The ability to swap professions yet still achieve and excel in both of his passions is a clear demonstration of his work ethic and dedication. During our conversation I was able to learn so much more about a man who stands as an inspirational figure for so many youth today.

Some people may not be aware of Justice Page’s passion for mentoring. Through the formation of the Page Education Foundation, Justice Page and his wife, Diane,  strive to encourage, motivate and assist young women and men of color through financial assistance for post-secondary education and opportunities to connect with mentors.

The Page Foundation and Justice Page’s successes throughout his lifetime are clear indicators of how mentoring can impact our lives.

I think we all have a role in making the world we live in a better place and I’ve had that view for quite some time. At the same time, because of the ‘celebrity’ that comes with being or having been a professional athlete, I recognize that I have some ability to influence others. And it occurred to me that while I may have some ability, I can’t reach or touch enough people on an individual basis, to be able to influence that many peoples’ lives.

– Justice Alan Page

Justice Page’s personal experience exemplifies the lesson we would like all mentors and mentees to learn: In anything you do your goal should be to do it well. To say that Justice Page simply played for the Vikings would be an understatement. His excellence in the sport resulted in being elected into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Professional Football Hall of Fame. To this day he is still considered one of the best defensive linemen to play for the NFL. During his career, Justice Page also found time to pursue a Juris Doctor (J.D) at the University of Minnesota Law School. He credits his family members as some of his most influential mentors, noting that his parents constantly pushed him to excel, not only in athletics and academics, but in anything he did. They emphasized an important life lesson that Justice Page has taken to heart: Whatever your craft, passion, or hobby, take pride in your work and give it your all.

I should note that mentoring takes place in so many ways and so many different arenas and the reality is that nobody, I don’t care who you are, there isn’t anybody that accomplishes anything by themselves. I mean it just doesn’t [happen]. We have this view that people are successful because of their individual effort. Now, that’s part of it, but that’s not nearly all of it. It’s the support, assistance, and encouragement that we get from others, in virtually everything we do, that allows us to progress.

– Justice Alan Page

Justice Page emphasizes the importance of informal mentoring. He believes that we all have a duty to facilitate the healthy development of  youth. Individuals may mentor through a formal, established mentoring program, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. But informal mentors exist everywhere across our society and workforce. Coaches, teachers, coworkers, teammates, and friends all may have a lasting impact on the growth and healthy development of youth as an informal mentor. Sometimes we don’t recognize how profound of an impact we could have by simply acknowledging that we are all mentors. As Justice Page mentioned, mentoring occurs in many different arenas and our work as mentors should focus on ensuring all relationships and interactions with youth promote healthy youth development to ensure their future success. In offering our consistent support and encouragement to youth we can inspire a passion to excel in anything they do. Just as Justice Page’s parents influenced his determination to succeed.

I think we have to act. I think we can’t spend our time talking about it. We have to act. We have to be willing to act and then act. You know, far be it from me to place limits on what the possibilities are.

– Justice Alan Page

We are all mentors and we must act. However we can help, wherever we can help, taking that first step is the most important thing. We must realize that our everyday interactions have the ability to impact and change the lives of the youth. Justice Page had many caring mentors throughout his life. Because of them and their influence he was moved to establish the Page Foundation, impacting the lives of thousands of youth. He has many accolades to his name: award-winning athlete, accomplished attorney, state Supreme Court justice. But perhaps the title of which he is most proud is that of mentor.