Mentor Spotlight: Sue Zheng

Sue immigrated to the United States at the age of 12 from China. As a teenager, she struggled to learn English, but from that experience, she learned to be adaptable and welcoming to new experiences. Attending college was rewarding for Sue not only because of the education, but also because it helped her grow and find passions in life. Being a first-generation college student, she credits numerous “informal mentors” who helped her both personally and professionally in her journey.

After graduating and progressing through her career, Sue wanted to give back and make an impact in her community. So, when a colleague at BlackRock told her about iMentor, she was definitely interested.

I was attracted to iMentor because of [their] model. Being able to make a long-term commitment and work closely with one person really resonated with me. I wanted to make a deep, powerful, and impactful connection.”

After attending orientation and getting trained, Sue was matched with Mona, a high school student who Sue shared many similarities with. Mona is also an immigrant, coming to the United States from Yemen at the age of 9. Both mentor and mentee are first-generation college students, and the pair share a passion for computer science as well. Sue and Mona’s relationship grew from this strong foundation.

Before Sue started mentoring, she was nervous about the 3-4-year commitment. At the time, she was also pregnant with her first child, so giving her mentee the time she deserved was even more of a challenge. Nevertheless, Sue persevered because she made a promise to be there for Mona. Three years later, she has learned a ton from her resilient mentee.

I’m glad I can be a role model for Mona, but I have definitely learned a lot from her as well. I see the way she leverages others like counselors and admissions officers to apply for college, and I see how I could be more resourceful in my own work. I see how I can ask for more help and rely more on others.”

For Sue, mentorship is a two-way street. She appreciates the dedication Mona has put into their relationship, and as Mona prepares for college, she hopes their relationship will become a lifelong friendship. And, yes, Mona will be heading to college in the fall, much to the joy of both mentor and mentee.

When Mona got the acceptance to Barnard [College], my whole world was just ‘wow.’ That was the best feeling ever, being able to share in her joy. I remember taking her to see the school, so when it finally happened, it was the most rewarding part of the whole experience.”

Moreover, Sue is grateful to BlackRock for providing their employees with the opportunity and flexibility to participate in programs like iMentor. At the end of the day, she believes companies need to give back in meaningful ways. Once her formal commitment to Mona is over, Sue might take a break to focus on her kids, but make no mistake, she wants to come back to mentor again.