Creating Opportunities that Otherwise Would Not Exist by Building Transformative Relationships
One of the things I love about working at YES is that you never know when a conversation will spark an idea that turns into a project that then turns into a proposal for a program. YMentor is one such program and a great example of how data is driving the direction and vision of programs that impact the singular lives of our students.
Last semester, the Student Support Counseling (SSC) team spent time diving into our “overage” student data at our SSC content meeting. “Overage” students are adults who have not yet entered their senior year and will graduate at age 20 or 21. The idea of supporting our adult students in a targeted approach emerged as a focus area for East End, North Forest and North Central.
Considering the need for motivation and engagement with our adult students and the evidence based intervention of mentoring, I proposed the idea of a pilot program, YMentor. It is a program focused on adult career mentoring and access to engaging and relevant information for adult living. The SSCs agreed to pilot the program. In true YES fashion, we took the idea and ran with it. We focused on brining supporters like Lynda Daniel, Manager of Student Opportunities, to help with finding expert community speakers. We snagged, Brittany Baize, Director of Corporate Giving, to help with recruiting mentors fromYPP-YES Prep Professionals. We were on our way to creating opportunities that otherwise would not exist while building transformative relationships with and on behalf of our students.
In January, during National Mentoring Month, ten of our Home Office Stars and YPP volunteersstepped up and signed on to be career mentors for our first cohort of adult students. These YMentors have committed to give their time, share their talents and inspire our students over the next semester. They will join their mentees for monthly lunches, make monthly contact to share their career experiences and find opportunities to engage and motive their mentee.
Layers of supportare necessary to keep our students engaged and enrolled at YES. Working together with students, parents, campus staff, home office staff, mentors, volunteers and community members will helpbuild the capacity of our students to continue to meet the challenges of everyday life while also meeting the challenges of even more complex issues related to being an adult student. It is vital to continue to help build the skills our students need both inside and outside of the classroom as we keep our focus on persistence for all students. YMentor is up to the challenge.
Last month, ten YES students and nine YMentors gathered for their first luncheon and speaker series at the United Way. Relationships were built and passions were shared. Students walked away with information they need for successful adult living. They had the opportunity talk about their own passions and hear about programs and employment options that fit their interests.
An unexpected benefit that came out of bringing our students together from different campuses was thepower of peer support. Hearing the students share their stories with their peers, listening to each other’s struggles and sharing their reasons for choosing to stay at YES, created a powerful moment of peer support and the ultimate affirmation of the work we all do to support students. It was a special moment to see these students inspire and motivate each other in a way that only they could do for each other.
YMentor’s focus is to engage and support adult students at YES through mentoring and access to engaging and relevant information and resources for successful adult living. Students participating in this program are provided individualized and consistent support from their Student Support Counselor. Students are paired up with a career mentor to help explore real world career experiences and given access to a series of workshops by community experts on specialized topics for successful adult living with an employment focus. We aim to engage, motivate and inspire.
Without our mentors, SSCs and community partners, our idea would just be that, an idea. YMentor has developed into an opportunity that otherwise would not exist for our students and has allowed us toexpand our reach and impact the singular lives of our students.
If you are interested in hearing more about our YMentors and YMentees, look for our YMentor post next month.