Q&A with Mentor Natalie
How did it feel to meet Justin for the first time?
I first met Justin during our initial Learn and Earn session. All of the mentors and youth leaders were sitting in a circle after our group introductions, and Mobile began calling out names of matches to stand up and begin our first one-on-one meetings. I remember feeling nervous, and so many questions ran through my mind: Would he like me? Would I be a good mentor? Would we have anything to talk about, anything in common? When we began talking I realized that there was nothing to worry about. We may have different interests, different life stories, and different goals, but it was evident from our first conversation that we share a set of core values, and a way of seeing the world. Since the moment we sat down that evening, I haven’t thought of those questions again.
What were your concerns about being a mentor?
I think I was concerned that I wouldn’t be cool enough to be Justin’s mentor! Better said, I was concerned about being able to walk the line between being a friend and being a role model; sometimes they have conflicting aims. When I was a teenager, the people I looked up to as my mentors were people who I wanted to become, but who weren’t afraid to give me guidance when I needed it. Luckily for me, Justin has made it so easy to be a good mentor. He has an amazing gift for becoming friends with just about anyone, and is never afraid to ask for advice.
What excited you most about being a mentor?
Throughout my life I have been lucky to have had some amazing mentors to guide me through tough professional decisions, personal dilemmas, and daily life challenges. It’s invaluable to have someone there to act as a sounding board when you aren’t sure what to do, or when you know exactly what to do but need a little encouragement. I was so excited to have the chance to fill that role for a young person, particularly because there are so many tough decisions at that age. You’re figuring out who you are, and who you want to be, and sometimes it’s nice to have someone to talk to whose sole purpose is to support you and to be there for you, with no other angle. It’s such a privilege to be a mentor, and I am especially lucky to be a mentor to someone as driven, caring, and selfless as Justin.
Can you describe your transition meeting?
During our transition meeting, we met with our wonderful coordinator, Julie, to discuss transitioning from our Learn and Earn (L&E) relationship into a community-based relationship. Fortunately, Justin and I had already spent twelve weeks together during L&E and had gotten to know each other a little bit, so we knew what we each wanted from community-based mentoring. Julie led us in a frank discussion of expectations and rules, as well as our schedules and time constraints (Justin and I will both be heading to school this fall!) and we set up our first meeting for the following week at a coffee shop.
How do you connect with your program coordinator for support?
Julie has been incredibly accessible and helpful as our program coordinator. Whenever I have a question or concern, I send Julie an email or pick up the phone and she is there to offer guidance and support.