Mike Hagan is a retired businessman whose tag line on his email is from “success to significance.” He has two children who have left the nest and are in college, he has an active social life and is involved in many important activities. He is keenly aware there are many students who come from different circumstances than his children and have no one they can turn to when they need someone to talk with.
Mike decided to become a mentor several years ago and was matched with a Sarasota High school student. In appearance Mike and his student could not be more different, that didn’t phase Mike. He started mentoring Jay once a week during the school day on the school campus. Jay quickly learned that Mike was someone who he could trust and was committed to him. They met for several years while Jay finished his junior and senior year of school with Jay being the first one in his family to graduate from high school.
I am not sure who was most proud the student or the mentor. The true honor for Mike came when Jay asked Mike if he would mentor his younger brother. Mike quickly agreed and now he has two brothers who have graduated from high school and have successful jobs contributing to help the family all living with their grandmother. Mike will confess he has received a great deal of satisfaction knowing he has helped these two young men graduate from school and become good family members and citizens in our community.
Why do students agree to have a mentor and who are these students? The students who come into the Faces of Accomplishment Mentoring Program are as diverse as the number of students in the schools. They are from many ethnicities, cultures, family incomes…some from single parent homes, some dealing with legal issues, some just looking for an adult they can trust and share their struggles with knowing their mentor will listen and not judge. They are students who are trying to balance school, work and living with uncertain home lives. They are students who want someone to listen to them and help them navigate their school issues and their futures.
The two brothers in the paragraph above are “those” students. They live with their elderly grandmother with a limited financial situation. There was no father figure or no male role model for them to turn to. They were unsure of what to do when they graduated from high school or if high school graduation was even possible for them. But having a mentor by their side helped them see there was hope and they could accomplish their goals with encouragement and support from someone they learned was there for them.