January 14, 2016

As part of National Mentoring Month, today we’re continuing to celebrate “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

Check out Emily’s story from earlier today »

As Summer Search’s mentors prepare to interview new high school sophomores (who are hoping to become Summer Searchers), we’re flipping the script on our mentors and interviewing THEM about their own mentoring experiences.

Here’s what a few of them said…

Francisco Guzman, San Francisco

Why do you think mentoring is important in the life of a young person?

Francisco-Denise-SF Francisco (right), with one of his mentees Denise

“I think that mentoring is important because our students already have so many leadership qualities, but often don’t allow themselves to celebrate these qualities. The mentoring conversations are where those skills are acknowledged and cultivated. Mentors can be their biggest cheerleaders, their most consistent coaches, or their shoulder to lean on, and that choice is completely up to the student. Through mentoring, students have the power to shape their Summer Search experience, and discover the power they have to shape their future. Empowering young people is something that Summer Search does an amazing job of, and the impact that these students have on the world is indelible.”

Alyssa Reese, New York City

Describe a time at Summer Search where your impact in a student’s life was particularly meaningful to you:

NY-Alyssa Alyssa (left), with mentee Rasheed

“Prior to joining our program, one of my students was having trouble finding her own voice and often found herself making decisions to please others and not herself. While I have seen this student make steady changes throughout the year, the junior reflection (when our high school juniors get a chance to reflect on their personal growth, challenges and goals for the upcoming year) was an opportunity to remember and connect all of her smaller victories into a larger growth narrative.

“During this reflection process, this student articulated a newfound sense of confidence, leadership and self-advocacy. She also expressed a sincere appreciation for the safe and secure space of our mentoring relationship that helped to uncover and encourage these traits, even when she was unable and unwilling to see them in herself.

“This conversation was particularly impactful to me because it perfectly summarizes why we do this work — to help young people discover who they’ve always wanted to be.

Colin Petkus, Seattle

What have you learned by working with the students at Summer Search?

Colin-SE-1 Colin (left), with mentee Sirac

“I’ve learned far too many things at Summer Search to condense into a simple paragraph. To name a few — the adaptability and grit of our students, the power of wilderness education and the impact of active listening. What most comes to mind though, is the ways that I’ve been challenged to confront my own privilege and biases. It was not an ‘a-ha’ moment for me, nor will it be; it is a never-ending process of learning, reflecting, and, most importantly, listening… I believe my biggest role is listening.”

As you can see, mentoring is not just a one-sided relationship. It’s a shared opportunity for learning and growth. Summer Search mentors work hard to help our students achieve great things, but our mentors also learn just as many great things from their mentees.

Are you a mentor? Tell us why you do what you do! #IAmAMentor

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