As part of National Mentoring Month, today, January 14, we’re celebrating “I am a Mentor Day,” when mentors everywhere are encouraged to share their stories about why they do what they do, and the impact that being a mentor has had on their lives. #NationalMentoringMonth
The following is a guest post written by Emily Edwards, Summer Search’s National Deputy Chief Development Officer, and a mentor to many students and alumni in Boston over her 16-year Summer Search career.
Jay Jacobs (founder of Summer Search Boston and former CEO) and I first met Lunide when she was a freshmen in high school.
Her guidance counselor had made a compelling case that we needed to accept Lunide into the program a year early (as we generally only accept sophomores), before “life swept in” and things went in the wrong direction for her.
Emily, pictured on the right, next to Jay Jacobs (middle) and Summer Search Founder Linda Mornell (left)
At the time, Lunide and her family were experiencing many of the challenges that are typical for immigrants as they try to build a new life in America. Summer Search helped her navigate those obstacles. As her mentor, she and I were together for many big events in Lunide’s high school career. We even stuck her college applications in a mail box together to make sure they went out on time.
Last year, Lunide reached out to share that she’d earned her PhD! She also thanked me for the role that Summer Search’s “unconditional love and support” had played in that achievement. When I wrote her back to reinforce that it was actually she, not us, who had made that happen, this was her profound response:
Emily, as you may remember, I battle with accepting compliments. I always say, ‘it’s no big deal, it just happened.’ NO, things don’t just happen to me. I bust my behind to make things happen. I need to accept it when others acknowledge my hard work… simple as that. I want to make that crucial change in my life and in my daily interactions so it becomes routine.
I take the first step here to say thank you Emily Edwards and Jay Jacobs for breaking me down like you did in the library at Brighton High during the spring of 2000. (That) changed my life forever, and it continues to do so. You broke me down only to start the building process, a process I have continued through hard work, hope and humor for over 15 years. Let’s continue to build together — build individuals and communities, side by side.
Once a self-titled “alienated” Haitian immigrant living with extended family in Boston, Lunide is now a professor at a university in San Diego, California, inspiring and reaching other students there.
Lunide’s commitment to “building together” inspired me when we met a few months ago to celebrate her achievements (pictured above), and it inspires me daily in my life and work as a mentor and leader at Summer Search.