What started out as an academic mentoring relationship, blossomed into a meaningful friendship that lasts even today as Niya attends college.
19-year-old Niya can’t imagine a day that doesn’t include speaking with her mentor Julianna. It all started back in high school when Niya’s guidance counselor recommended she check out Sponsor-A-Scholar. She was drawn to the weekly homework sessions, college information sessions, and SAT prep that the program provided, so she decided to become a mentee.
There she met her mentor, Julianna. Even with her excitement for the program and the possibilities of the mentoring relationship, nervousness still crept in for Niya as she began this new experience with Sponsor-A-Scholar. But the racing heart and butterflies in her stomach didn’t last long with Julianna by her side! Through their trips to Dave & Buster’s to play arcade games, meals out at Italian and Soul food restaurants, and adventures going shopping, checking out bookstores, and attending plays in the park, they built a friendship that empowered them both.
From Nerves to No Limits
“The best part of having Julianna as a mentor is that she’s a friend first and academic mentor second,” says Niya. “She’s always pushing me to do my best and she's a great emotional support system. We have a lot in common, and I feel that I can call on her for anything that I need.”
As a mentor, Julianna drew from her own background and experiences to encourage Niya to pursue opportunities Niya may not have tried on her own.
With Julianna’s encouragement, Niya applied for the extremely prestigious and competitive new Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. When Niya was selected along with 40 other scholars nationwide, Julianna shared in her joy for this incredible achievement.
“What's the use of knowledge if you don't share it? I believe mentorship is a necessary pillar of self/professional development. Since I was a young adult, I have had strong support and network system, one of the most essential was my high school mentor,” says Julianna. “High School is such a pivotal time in life, having people is important. I figured, if that relationship had such an impact on me, I owe it to my mentor to pass it down.”
The Glue of the Mentoring Relationship
Niya’s success continues to grow like a snowball rolling down a mountain. She has Julianna in her corner and the confidence and assurance to meet various industry professionals, pursue highly competitive opportunities, and become more comfortable in speaking up for what she believes in.
After finishing her first year of college at Howard University, Niya has transitioned out of the Sponsor-A-Scholar program, but she eagerly answers the ringing phone or text message from Julianna as the two continue to talk every day. Neither can imagine that ending any time soon.
“Nurturing a relationship is the only way it grows. Consistency and intention are at the forefront of our mentor/mentee relationship success. It was the glue. Our mentor relationship has further reminded me how relationships are a 2-way street and you only get out of it, what you put in,” says Julianna.
Do you want to help a young person build up their confidence and see them pursue their dreams? Learn more about involving career readiness in your mentoring relationship here.