Mentorship and mentee mentor relationships have been on the rise in the U.S. in recent years and can be critically important to young people in helping them access opportunities and realize their full potential. Driven by federal, state, and local programs, as well as large organizations like MENTOR, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, mentoring can help connect and fuel opportunity for young people in their personal, educational, and professional lives.
A group of employees from Stanton recently attended MENTOR’s Amplify Mentoring Celebration, a commemoration of the organization’s 30th anniversary. Through speeches and presentations by Mentor’s board of directors, Broadway actors and performers, awards commemorating transformative programs at the NBA, the Fresno Unified School District, Employ Milwaukee, and a special guest keynote by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots, everyone gained a deeper appreciation for the transformative effect mentors can have and how wide the movement has grown.
“I am who I am today because someone saw in me something I didn’t see in myself.”
That line, first spoken by David Shapiro, MENTOR CEO, and repeated by others throughout the night, stuck with the group and led everyone to reflect on the important role mentors have played in their lives.
“Music is life.” When I was in high school, the assistant principal was the advisor to the DJ Club and a major enthusiast for all things music.
I had gotten interested in electronic music and was building a large collection of dance music CDs (back when we all had CDs), and his excitement helped encourage me to follow what was at the time a major passion: music.
His positive energy and support helped me overcome uncertainty and hesitancy about playing music for other people, and he helped me secure opportunities to DJ and play music at school events and dances, and even at a bar on 14th street in Manhattan.
His personal motto was “Carpe Diem,” a saying I’ve held onto closely to this day, and which has pushed me to be adventurous in exploring the world.
He definitely believed in me and encouraged me to pursue music and DJing when I had no confidence in myself.
– Alex Varney, Director
“A good day was had by all.” It was the cliché heard around California’s North State.
28 years ago, I bought a one-way flight from New York to Los Angeles and drove 475 miles up I-5 to Chico. Two days later I parked my rental car outside the studios at KHSL-TV. It would be home for the next six years – first as an intern then promoted to a general assignment reporter.
Looking back at my internship, I never initially asked someone to be my mentor. I was simply being inquisitive, curious, and at times – probably overly annoying.
Yet, those in the newsroom helped me and taught me – from reminding me to never forget to press ‘record’ on the video camera, to the basic principles of video editing, producing, and writing.
I made mistakes. Many of them.
This brings me back to the cliché heard around the North State. I covered a local story about fishing and concluded the feature by expressing “a good day was had by all.” It was cringe worthy, but I learned a valuable lesson. My mentor offered encouragement, reassurance, and solid advice. His sincerity resonated with me on that day and for the years following.
I’m no longer in journalism but was very fortunate to have mentors who helped me develop professionally and personally. While my career has changed, I’ve been paying it forward by sharing the same support and mentoring advice I received as a young mentee 28 years ago.
– Frank Piemonte, Director
Charlotte Alter wrote an article in Time Magazine in May 2020 titled, “How COVID-19 Will Shape the Class of 2020 For the Rest of Their Lives,” which resonated with how I felt graduating in the middle of a global pandemic. I moved back home to live with my parents and instead of going forward, felt like I had gone backward.
The importance of having a relationship with a mentor who can provide knowledge and can assist in answering the toughest questions cannot be overstated.
During the months after graduating in 2020, I stayed in touch with professors and those through my LinkedIn network. I also continued to volunteer at the local volunteer fire department in my hometown, where I had been active since I was 15 years old.
In the midst of the pandemic, I started volunteering a significant amount of my time, making diverse connections throughout the local community.
Having a wide set of mentors to assist in my career development was invaluable. Whether through work, volunteer organizations, or extended family ties, I would encourage others to not be afraid to ask those you look up to for coffee or a quick chance to connect. Establishing and maintaining your mentoring relationships will prove to be a powerful tool for growth.
– Quinn Ludwicki, Senior Account Executive