In honor of National Mentoring Month, Blair Phillips, Peckham RAMP Site, from Lansing, MI, shares a mentor and mentee story highlighting the power of mentoring relationships.
“Behind every successful person, there’s a mentor who helped them along the way.” (Unknown)
At the beginning of September, a young 14-year-old, African-American girl joined the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP). In school, this young lady was labeled a “troubled teen.” The year before she enrolled in RAMP, her attendance was poor and she was often suspended. Many teachers spoke of her in low regard and claimed she needed “to get her act together” or she would become another statistic. Due to the negative attitudes towards this student, it appeared she developed a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. She seemed to think she would fail—no matter what she did.
When the RAMP Coordinator began to get to know this student, the young lady shared she does not have support at home. She stated that she remains in her room and does not have close relationships with any family members. She explicitly told the RAMP Coordinator that she did not want a mentor because it would be “a waste of everyone’s time.” However, little did we all know, a mentor was about to change her world.
In September 2017, this young lady met a potential mentor from the local community college. This mentor has experienced hardship and, when she was an adolescent, she was involved with the juvenile justice system. However, now, she is attending college, working full-time, and is actively engaged in the community.
At first, the RAMP student wanted absolutely nothing to do with the mentor. She would not verbally engage with the mentor, but non-verbally, she displayed her disinterest in building a relationship with her. Nevertheless, the mentor continued to treat the student with respect, and did not succumb to the negative attitudes of school staff. The mentor was strength-based and commended the student on positive behaviors. Eventually, the student’s walls began to deteriorate.
One day, during RAMP session, the mentor offered to take the student to get frozen yogurt, and, from there, an amazing mentor/mentee relationship truly blossomed. After this outing, the student began to open up to her mentor. She shared that she often starts fights at school due to others bullying her. She showed her mentor messages and notes that were written about her. The student explained that she was trying to stand up for herself, and when she would explain that to school staff, no one believed her. Together, they advocated. They met with the principal and addressed many hidden issues the student was experiencing.
Along with their advocacy, they have shared many fun activities together! They have gone to dinner, attended movies, gone rollerblading, volunteered, attended a motivational speaker event, and the student was able to ice skate for the first time!
This particular mentor and mentee demonstrates how important it is to give every youth a chance! This young lady could have easily flown under the radar and lived up to her negative self-fulfilling prophecy, but an important individual came along, invested in her, and continues to show her the way!
Learn more about RAMP and check out some of the NCWD/Youth related publications: