Award Recipients’ Insights: Tara Upshaw and Accountability

Tara is the 2015-2016 recipient of the Spirit of TMP Award from Ryerson’s Tri-Mentoring Program.

My name is Tara Upshaw, and I was recently honoured with the Spirit of TMP Award for my involvement in Ryerson’s Tri-Mentoring Program (TMP). The award is given to a student who embodies the key aspects of mentoring: guidance, development, engagement, and support in their role and responsibilities as a member of the TMP community. It was my current mentee who nominated me for the award. Our mentor-mentee relationship has been one of mutual growth. We spend our time goal setting and reflecting on how to improve the balance of school, work, and our personal lives.

tara headshot

I have been involved in TMP from the beginning of my journey at Ryerson. While it is fantastic to be recognized for my contributions to the community, the real value in this award is in knowing that I received it because I have acted in ways that align with one of my core values, and that in doing so I have been able to make a positive impact on other people.

Accountability is a value I believe is central to the success of any person, in any pursuit of any goal. It has crucially influenced how I’ve developed as a person, and made me capable of delivering effective mentorship. I’ve broken down this idea of accountability here in hopes that it might help other students uniquely impact the Ryerson community:

Accountability is doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Accountability is also following through when you can’t do what you said you would, and owning up to your mistakes.

Some ideas that compliment this idea of accountability well:

  • Do all things you are committed to with excellence. If you can’t do everything excellently, you’re doing too much. 

  • Your “excellent” will be different from someone else’s “excellent”. Don’t compare yourself to others; if you do, you’ll always be miserable. 
Instead, make sure that you are always positive you have done your absolute best to deliver your “excellent”.
  • Everything is an opportunity for learning. Even if you hate the subject material, or you’re getting feedback from a coworker or professor that is less than fun to hear, there is always learning to be done that will help you in the future. In each situation you face, make a game of figuring out what the lesson is. 
Be accountable to your ability to improve your personal definition of excellence.
  • Care more about what you can do for others than what others can do for you. Be accountable to your potent ability to create happiness in the lives of other people.
  • Be comfortable saying no when an opportunity doesn’t really contribute to your goals. You can still help others along the way, but you don’t have to help everyone who asks. And that’s ok.
  • Learn how to let go of being right. More often than not, it’s more important to work with people to accomplish mutual goals than it is to prove a point or have the person accept that you know best. 
Be accountable to your ability to control the situation and produce results by allowing others to lead. 

I’m hoping some of these ideas resonate with you and empower you as you navigate your path here at Ryerson! I’m happy to hear your thoughts at Good luck!