My name is Kenneth Avocetien. I decided to become an SLM mentor after a friend talked to me about its mission and community programs. As a mentor, I’ve come to appreciate and understand even more how SLM’s direct focus on relationship-building really helps youth identify and fulfill their own personal goals. My experience as a mentor has been rewarding in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated beforehand. My mentee and I have gotten to know each other not only through shared interests and experiences we have in common (so far, we know we enjoy the same sports, have the same favorite color, have the same goofy sense of humor), but also through moments of natural misunderstandings. Probably the most enriching aspect has been seeing the roles that we’ve mutually carved for each other, especially during the isolation of the pandemic. I’ve felt privileged to be one of the adults that my mentee trusts enough to ask difficult questions about our country’s reckoning with racial justice, while remembering that these were not conversations that I myself (at the same age) had a clear handle on who I could talk to about. Of course, I haven’t always been sure that I’m doing or saying the right thing at all times with my mentee, but even then, the continuing support I receive from the staff at SLM, in terms of resources and a helping ear, has been invaluable to the whole experience.