Archive for mentorship

Mentoring with MMYC

Posted in Community Partners, student projects with tags , , , on April 11, 2011 by JennaBrager

The most recent and profound mentoring experience I have had was at the Maryland Multicultural Youth Center in Riverdale, Maryland. A friend of mine informed me of the opportunity to work with high school students who are applying to college. I was asked to share my story with the students at MMYC before the workshop. I conveyed to them that even with dismal financial circumstances, it is possible to go to college without enormous student loans looming after graduation. I explained that as a senior in high school, I faced several obstacles. First of all, my guidance counselor told me I would not be accepted by University of Maryland because SAT scores were not high enough. After raising my scores, I applied to the University and was accepted a few months later. The next obstacle was how to pay for college. By late spring, I had applied for a total of sixty scholarships. At the awards ceremony at the end of the school year, I received only four scholarships. However, those four financed about ninety percent of my tuition. I hoped the group of students would be inspired by my story and hopefully follow on the same path.

During the workshop, I was grouped with two young ladies who would soon finish a GED program with MMYC. Immediately, I was struck by their determination to succeed. After about an hour of talking with them, I learned that both girls became mothers at only sixteen and twenty. They spoke about the struggles of raising a child while trying to complete an education and the financial strain they felt to provide for their children. My heart was heavy when I heard their stories, especially because my own sister is just sixteen. However, their dedication and attitude inspired me in a new way. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had ever had the opportunity to talk and be listened to. I felt a lot of compassion for these girls and wanted to guide them to their goals.

Throughout the course of the workshop, I worked with them to write personal essays for a local scholarship to a two year vocational school of their choosing. The two girls were on two completely different career paths. One wanted to be a social worker after working as an assistant in the local Department of Social Services office. She was inspired to help the local hispanic community due to the help she received from community organizations after her daughter was born. The other student wanted to become a sonogram technician because of a particularly helpful and inspiring nurse she met during her pregnancy. She explained being a sonogram technician makes people happy by revealing what gender their child will be. I was impressed with the way the girls had been inspired to pursue careers based on those who helped them during perhaps the most difficult chapter of their lives. I started thinking about the idea that we are driven to certain things because of our experiences with people who we see as role models. I hoped that they would not soon forget their experiences in this workshop. By the end of the night, they both thanked me profusely and hugged me goodbye.

This experience was one of the best of my entire life. I often think about the students I met and hope that they find their way. The idea that I could help these students was incredibly fulfilling. Additionally, inspiring young women, especially those who have faced adversity, is something I am interested in pursuing in the future.
Grace Toulotte, Class of 2011,  Studio Art

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