As the last bell rings and students pour out of Baldwin High School, for some, the end of this school year will be bittersweet. Dr. Arlene Guerrero—or “Dr. G” to students—is retiring from her role as assistant principal. A beloved administrator, she oversaw 100 pairs of mentors and mentees at Baldwin Middle School, before co-running the high school mentoring program. Through it all, she had her own mentees, including now 19-year-old Ruby Malik. No individual had a greater impact on Ruby's high school experience than Dr. G, who became a mentor because of her passion for her students and adeptness at listening without judging. Describing her mentor as “a good soul,” Ruby recalls that whenever she had a problem or issue, Dr. G would take the time to walk her into her office and calm her down. She was an amazing advocate, Ruby says, always putting the student's mental health first.
When Ruby was, as she puts it, "drowning" in school, Dr. G didn't just pull her out of the water. Instead, she gave Ruby the tools and support she needed to succeed on her own—an approach that helped the mentee to develop independence and resilience.
“She taught me an important lesson,” Ruby said. “You cannot stress over things you can’t control.”
During their regular school “luncheons,” Dr. G would listen, counsel, and share with Ruby. She helped her with her college applications and a bid for class president, and even attended events when Ruby’s parents couldn't be there. The pair describe their relationship as one of mutual support and understanding, with Dr. G noting that she probably gets more out of it than Ruby. Her mentee is a continual source of humor and laughter, she said, and was “a ray of light, especially during some dark days of Covid.” As Dr. G retires, she leaves behind a legacy of care, compassion, and inspiration for her mentees. Ruby has since graduated from Baldwin, but she still considers Dr. G to be one of the most important people in her life and will always carry the lessons she learned from her forward. “Without her, I would never have made it through high school,” she said. In a world that often feels uncertain and overwhelming, the relationship between a mentor and mentee can be a powerful force for good. Arlene’s willingness to go the extra mile to support her students is why she’s been nominated for this year’s MENTOR of the Year Awards! If you know an inspiring mentor who deserves recognition, share their story today.