A Charm City Champion: Nancy’s Story

Nancy New is a mentor from iMentor Baltimore who volunteered in the inaugural cohort in 2019. A first-generation college graduate from Michigan, Nancy benefitted greatly from having mentors in her life and seeks to do the same for young people in high school. She dedicates much of her time towards fostering growth and opportunities for middle schoolers.

Nancy discusses how she was first introduced to iMentor, why she continues her commitment over the years, and the various ways that she supports the organization.

How did you first hear about iMentor?

A friend of mine invited me to a one-hour [meeting] with Baltimore Design School (BDS). It has three tracks: architecture, graphic [design], and fashion design. When you walk into this building, it's got these big high ceilings, and there's all this student work around, and it's got a really good vibe. I was convinced that's where I wanted to be, and then lo and behold – out of the heavens comes iMentor! iMentor had chosen BDS as one of the pilot schools. I went to one of the training sessions and was so impressed with the staff. I've been involved with iMentor going on six years.

There’s passion, there's competence, and just really helpfulness from every single person I've met from iMentor. I'm really impressed with the organization, and that's what led me to say, “This is something I'd like to put my stock into, because I think it's legit.”

You’ve had two mentees with us so far. Can you tell me about your first mentee?

Her name is Kazmir. She is an introvert, which is fascinating, because I'm not an introvert. We really gelled on what she needed, what she didn't need. She didn't know what she wanted to do, which of course she didn't – she was in eleventh grade! She's very smart, and she's a fashionista. It [took] a few months for her to trust me, but she would reach out if she needed something. And she's just a good kid. We are still in touch, too. Every few months or so she'll text me, or I'll text her.

What made you want to sign up to be a mentor again?

Because I believe in the program. I realized, based on personal experience, how important it can be to have people who just care about you because they care. One time, Kazmir and I were having lunch, and I was telling her I was trying to talk my husband into becoming a mentor. She said to me, “Well, he's getting paid.” And I said, “Kazmir, we're not paid.”

She went, “What? Why do you do this?” I [said], “I just care about you.” I just wanted to be able to help someone in the way that someone helped me.

Your current mentee Tayda is a senior. What is your relationship like with her?

Together we are working on her college applications [and] driving clarity for her on where she wants to go to school. She does believe she wants to go to college. We are now working on the potential scholarship applications. I think she also views me as a sounding board for whatever happens to be happening in her life.

How have Kazmir and Tayda positively impacted your life?

They each in their own way brings joy to me as I watch them grow, and I watch them ask questions of themselves. They go through the thinking process, and then they figure out what they want. It really makes me smile. I'm so proud of both of them. To feel like I played even a small part in that – it feels great. It's like a virtuous cycle, where you give and it comes back in a really positive way.

In what other ways are you involved with iMentor?

I did join the Board of Trustees at Baltimore Design School about three years ago. One of the roles that I play on the board is a liaison between the BDS board/school leadership and the iMentor leadership. I am a conduit for communication to make sure that the full board is up to speed on what's happening with iMentor and that any concerns the board has goes back to iMentor.

One of the things [during] my first round, I said it might be cool if we had a forum for the mentors to get together and support each other. We started this thing called Charm City Champions. This was during the pandemic – this group of two other women and I led monthly zoom chats for mentors to chit chat about what was working, what wasn't working, help needed.

And I do fundraising. This whole fundraising concept was new to me, but I believe in [iMentor] so strongly that I do it. I've come to embrace the necessity. Because everybody who knows me knows that mentoring is a huge part of who I am, it's very believable. I say anything that you can give is much appreciated. It's like a no pressure thing, which I think makes people want to give more honestly. I bring all my tchotchkes. I've got my iMentor water cup. I've got my T-shirts. I talk about it wherever I go!

You can fundraise or donate through the iMentor Baltimore Challenge! Your support will go towards providing resources for students on their paths to college and more. Learn more at https://give.imentor.org/campaign/2024-imentor-challenge-baltimore/c556269.