BROmentum Featured Mentor: Anthony Fiume

iMentor’s community is one of a kind, with a wealth of thoughtful volunteers committed to making a positive impact in our students’ lives. In honor of their dedication we highlight many of our volunteer mentors, sharing their perspectives on mentorship and the effect it has had on both them and their mentees. Did you know, in the US, women are 150% more likely to volunteer than men? That's why here at iMentor we are building BROmentum by recruiting more men to be great mentors to our students. We sat down with a long-time mentor, Anthony Fiume, to discuss his experience working with his mentee, Jerome.

iMentor: What drew you to volunteering for iMentor, and what was your first impression of Jerome?
Anthony: I've only been able to overcome life's twists and turns because of essential guidance I was offered growing up. I'm forever grateful for this, and when I was introduced to iMentor it felt like the perfect chance to offer that same guidance. My first impression of Jerome was that he was one of the nicest kids I'd ever met.

iMentor: How did you feel when you first met Jerome?
Anthony: It felt great. Jerome is an incredible artist, video game enthusiast, and future chef, who sometimes feels like his shared passion for art, gaming, and cooking are unique to those around him. It was an awesome feeling to see his reaction that first day when I told him it was likely that there are at least a million people outside the walls of high school who share that exact combination of passions.

iMentor: iMentor matches pairs who will be matched for a long time – at 3 to 4 years, it’s not your typical weekend volunteer opportunity. How would you describe how your relationship evolved over time?
Anthony: Jerome and I have become great friends, and I view our relationship more so now as a lifelong brotherhood. The structure of iMentor, allowing us to have a platform to constantly communicate, has been essential to maintaining the strong bond we've made.

: I can imagine the growth you’ve seen in Jerome as he developed through high school, but what about yourself? Were there any benefits to you personally that you didn’t expect when you became a mentor?
Anthony: I've definitely grown a better appreciation for having people around me who understand me. Hearing Jerome's tale of being a lone wolf reminded me of a time I didn't think I’d have my own pack, and it motivated me to continue to be my best self everyday, knowing that when I changed my perspective it changed the trajectory of my life. It feels amazing to know Jerome can look to me as an older brother; it showed me how powerful impacting one person could really be.

: To any prospective mentors out there who don’t volunteer yet, what would you tell them about the volunteer experience that they might not know?
Anthony: You'll soon or eventually realize that your life is busy, and it might get hard sometimes to keep making the trips to your school or stay in touch with your mentee. That's okay. Stick with it, and make the time. If your mentee is resistant, it's because they need you more. But if you stick by your mentee's side, and force yourself to be that guiding light, the reward is lifelong.

: And finally, if Jerome is reading, what would you say to him about your journey together?
Anthony: I'd tell Jerome that I see a future world-changer in him, and that over the time I've known him I've watched him grow as a kid who has always known he wanted to help others. I'd tell him that it's been amazing to see him get passionate about his artwork, and that my conversations with him are some of my favorites all week. I've been one of those busy mentors whose work has taken me outside of New York for extended periods of time, and the fact that we've maintained a strong bond is a testament to his character. We made it work, and I feel our bond is stronger than most. I can't wait to be there for the day Jerome graduates high school and goes on to bring his caring, artistic spirit to the lucky group of college kids wherever he ends up choosing to attend.

Interested in becoming a mentor? Register now for an upcoming Mentor Orientation in NYC, Chicago, or the Bay Area!