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Tammy Shares Her Mentor Experience

 

I’ve mentored Judith, a 19 year old student who was born in El Salvador but has lived in Annapolis for the past 3 years. This time has been very challenging for me.  Over the last few years , it has broken my heart to watch as many of our students were negatively impacted by the political climate and hate-filled rhetoric in our country.  I believe our immigrant and Hispanic students students have been greatly affected by these divisions.  I’ve continued to look for  ways to send these students a message that they are welcome in the United States and that they CAN achieve their dreams in our country. I want our students to know that we love them.

Early in my tenure as an administrator, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Maryland English Language Learners Family Involvement Network (MELLFIN) Conference by my school’s bilingual facilitator, Carolina Jacobo. Through this opportunity, I learned about the Chesapeake Language Project and I immediately signed up to be a mentor.  Given the fraught political situation in our country, the impact it was having on my families, and my feelings of helplessness, mentoring a student seemed like a small but significant way to be a light in the darkness.  My area of expertise is elementary school; I do not have a lot of experience guiding students through the college application process.  But I knew I had a lot of connections with colleagues who could assist me, and my oldest daughter had recently applied to colleges, so I decided I had something to offer.  Additionally, as a first-generation college student myself, I knew I could relate to students navigating an unfamiliar process to achieve their goals.

I am so grateful to have been matched with a motivated and brilliant young woman from Annapolis High School, Judith.  Judith is a senior who will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science (biology, chemistry, or perhaps biochemistry).  Upon graduation, Judith plans to attend medical school.  As of this writing, Judith has applied to Goucher College, St. Peter’s University, University of Scranton, Ursinus College, and (my alma mater) UMBC.  She is working on applications to St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, Judith and I have been meeting online via videoconference.  One silver lining is that we can meet very quickly and spontaneously using Google Meet, and I suspect we meet more frequently than we might have without this platform.  We have also had outdoor meetings (with masks and distance) at local establishments.  We have worked together on the common application, FAFSA, and scholarships together.  Judith and I were working on college applications together on November 7 when the recent election was called for Joe Biden.  We took this picture together to mark the moment!

It is impossible to overstate how motivated and organized Judith has been regarding the myriad tasks required to complete applications for colleges and scholarships.  She reaches out to me at least as frequently as I contact her to check in.  Trust me, as a busy administrator this has been invaluable!  Judith knows how to make connections and advocate for herself.  She reaches out to college admissions officers to ask questions and build relationships.  She is smart and ambitious.  Judith is also compassionate.  She expresses a desire to give back to her community in the future, by being a doctor and also by being a role model to other students who aspire to attend college.   I can only hope that one day Judith might consider being my doctor!