Monday, February 28, 2011

Byrne Urban Scholars is recruiting new mentors!

Interested in learning more about becoming a mentor for Byrne Urban Scholars?  See below for information on an upcoming Open House at Breckenridge Brewery in Downtown Denver.  Hope to see you there!  

What a Difference Six Months Can Make
Getting to Know My New Mentee

It's been a little under a year since I wrote this post about becoming a mentor for an amazing Denver organization called Byrne Urban Scholars.  I had just completed the interview process and was anxiously waiting for the mentor / mentee matches to be made.  Around this time last year, my future "mentee," a.k.a., the young woman who I would mentor throughout the her high school years, remained a mystery.

I had little-to-no idea what was in store for me and my future mentee.  I was nervous, excited, and eager to take on the "mentor" role in any appropriate capacity.  Would she need help with her homework?  How could I set a good example for her?  How do I cultivate a trusting relationship with her?  I had so many questions... First and foremost, however, I was just eager to learn her name!  To shake her hand.  And of course, if the situation called for it, to give her a big, annoying "Chrissy-style" hug.

I met Juanita in August of 2010.  I clearly remember driving anxiously to her house to meet with her, her family and our case manager.  I was especially apprehensive because I was told that her parents' first language was Spanish, and I only knew enough Spanish to say "hello," "thank you," and to ask, "Where's the bathroom?"  In the back of my head though, I knew it was perfectly normal to have butterflies. I promised myself I'd keep a level head and try to just be "present" for the initial meeting. So when I pulled up to her house, I took a deep breath, slowly got out of the car, and gladly left the butterflies in the back seat.

I quickly realized that I had nothing at all to be nervous about.  Her family welcomed me with open arms, and our case manager did an excellent job translating for us so we all felt at ease.  I felt a comforting sense of closeness between the beautiful fifteen-year-old sitting across from me, and her parents and siblings.  Although it was a quick meeting and Juanita was fairly shy, I could tell that the next three years, though challenging, would be filled with fun, excitement and meaning.

Since August, I've learned that although Juanita can be quiet sometimes, she isn't really all that shy.  She's not afraid to take risks, and she is very successful in school.  She just started her first after-school job, and she has amazing friends and family.  At first, I struggled with knowing exactly how to be a good mentor to her, because, well, she's just a downright wonderful young woman.  She is kind, respectful, and has a strong work ethic.  Her grades are great, and she is very motivated to go on to college.

Eventually, I figured out that I could help her by simply letting her know I'll be here for her if she ever needs me.  Whether it's now, next year, throughout college or beyond -- I'll be available.  I can support, advocate or inspire.  Most importantly though, I can just "be."

Open House

Please join us at our Annual Open House!    

Thursday, March 24th  
5:30pm ~ 8:00pm
Breckenridge Brewery
2220 Blake Street ~ Denver 80205

This fun evening event is a great way to mix and mingle with other Byrne Urban Scholars supporters as well as learn more about our programs. Don't miss our brief presentation by a couple of our outstanding graduates who will share how being an Urban Scholar impacted their lives.   

RSVP to Susan Duncombe at 

Bring a friend! Join us for a drink and some appetizers.  
We look forward to seeing you there!   

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