By Stephanie T., Current AALEAD Mentor
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie T.
Every year AALEAD has a chance to nominate one of our mentors for the Mentoring Matters Coalition Mentor of the Year Award. This year we have nominated one of our Youth Mentors, Stephanie T., who has demonstrated that mentoring can go beyond a formal relationship between an adult and a young person to become a close sisterhood and friendship through through her one year of being matched with youth Sherry C. We asked Stephanie five questions about her experience in the mentoring program. Read on to see her thoughts! – Vi Bui, Youth Mentoring & Volunteer Programs Coordinator
1. How did you find AALEAD and what drew you into volunteering with the Youth Mentoring Program?
I have always loved volunteering and giving back to my immediate community, but didn’t feel like I was making long-term impact when I participated in one-off volunteer events. I knew becoming a mentor would give me a great opportunity to be an influential force, and thereby make a long-term impact, on someone’s life.
So, I actually sought out AALead! I knew I wanted to connect and share experiences with a mentee who was culturally and ethnically similar to me and from my hometown area of Montgomery County. AALead was just the right fit.
2. After being matched with Sherry a little over a year ago, how has mentoring been the same or different as what you expected?
Mentoring has been easier than I expected! I didn’t expect it to be “hard”, but I initially questioned if I truly was able to relate to my mentee – despite sharing ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Sherry and I get a long so well – from our shared values, to the way we talk, our style and taste in music – that a mentorship/friendship was formed almost instantaneously! It has made mentoring feel natural.
3. What has been a memorable moment in your mentoring relationship?
Every winter, Sherry and I visit the Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Temple. We always watch a performance, admire the lights, and check out the visitors’ center, which boasts tons of Christmas trees, all decorated uniquely. Our favorite tree is the one that features dolls from countries all around the world and we always make it a point to find the doll ornament for each other’s country. This always gets us to talking about who we are.
Moments where we share our identity, heritage and ethnicity are special to me and shape who I am as a mentor and overall person. I am still learning about myself, as is Sherry, and being able to share lessons in our growth/identity development makes for a great bond. Ironically, the situations we both go through separately, somehow always mirror each other! Funny how things repeat themselves.
4. What is one thing you’ve learned from being a mentor?
Being a mentor has taught me that there are many situations to “pass the torch” and share lessons learned with others!
As someone who is older, and has gone through similar situations, I now better understand the value of thinking from different perspectives. So, when Sherry and I talk, I ask her to think about it from the other persons’ viewpoint, consider different actions, and the outcomes from those actions. As a mentor, it’s great being able to guide her through her thinking. Mentorship has taught me that valuable skill.
5. What would you say to someone who is interested in becoming a mentor?
Mentoring is empowering! You have someone who looks up to you, trusts you, and takes value in what you say and do. Through mentoring, you end up being a better person: doing better, trying more, getting 10x as creative, simply because you have someone watching you. It is motivating to have someone by your side who empowers you to be the best you!
If you are interested in becoming an AALEAD Youth Mentor or Career Coach read more about how to get involved or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.