It’s National Mentoring Month, a time when organizations across the country shine the light on the importance of mentoring relationships in young people’s lives.
At Summer Search, mentoring is our everything! Unlike many other youth organizations, we partner our students with a full-time, professionally-trained staff mentor who builds an authentic and long-lasting relationship. Our mentors work incredibly hard to form honest and trusting relationships with their students, to remind them that their voices matter, and to be there for them in their personal and academic lives.
We are so fortunate to have a team of dedicated mentors doing this work across our five regions, making those real-life impacts, day-in, and day-out.
Here are three Summer Search mentors who were kind enough to share their stories about why they choose to do this work, and how it has impacted their own lives.
Easton Davis, New York City
“I see myself in many of our students’ shoes. I can attest firsthand how important it is to have someone who is consistently available and knowledgeable about the college process and culture in achieving student success. I believe that the right pairing with a mentor and student can lead to a transformational relationship.
“It’s hard to quantify and measure how important these mentoring relationships are. How critical that person [the mentor] is in guiding a student to their goal and through difficulty. These relationships exist far beyond the current moment. For a student, I believe their Summer Search relationships stick with them long past their time with us. It becomes an internalized part of their decision-making process in their lives going forward.
“The odds aren’t stacked in our students’ favor. We are guiding someone’s life and putting them in a position to thrive because the institutions designed to support them often fail to meet their full needs. This motivates me and creates a sense of urgency to push for equity. Pushing to see what true equity looks like. That guides my compass for my work as a mentor and advisor.”
Miriam Pena-Allen, Boston
“Mentoring has always been part of my personal and professional life. Being a first-generation college graduate, I’ve experienced having mentors along the way helping me get to where I am today.
“I mentor because our students are filled with creative and positive change, and I want to bring that out. I want to support them in developing the change inside them. And I hope they see themselves as instruments of transformation.
“I also want my students to know that there are people, like me, who want them to use their voice and their strengths to help them define their own idea of success.”
Jocelyn Sanchez, Bay Area
“When I started working at Summer Search, I had a full caseload of sophomores who are now all grown up and applying to college. I’ve had the great honor of getting to know them pretty well.
“One of my students, Nicolas B., has always been very passionate about playing soccer. Each call we had he would tell me the highs and lows of different games he played and shared about a great opportunity his soccer club had to go play a match in Croatia. It was his dream to play soccer in college, specifically San Jose State.
“The summer before his senior year of high school, he broke his ankle while playing soccer and had to be off his foot for a while. He was devastated because college coaches would be scouting for players in the coming months. Through a lot of effort with physical therapy and working through his anxieties, he was able to recover and play in an important game in November.
“He called me a week later with the great news that he was offered a full ride to San Jose State on their soccer team — I couldn’t have been more proud of him! I know what an emotional rollercoaster he went through and am glad that I was one of the people he trusted to share his concerns with.
“I am also thankful that I work with people who understand what it’s like to celebrate our students because I yelled out of excitement in the office when he gave me that great news!”
Jocelyn’s student Nicolas B. (white jersey) playing for the San Jose State University soccer team.
Thank you to Easton, Miriam, and Jocelyn for sharing, and for the impactful work that you and your fellow mentors do! Stay tuned for Part Two as we continue to celebrate National Mentoring Month.