Life Enrichment Through Mentorship: Drew’s Story

Drew Miles, Senior Director of Brand Partnerships at the SpringHill Company, has had his life shaped both by being a mentee and a mentor. He shares how his mentoring relationship that has spanned three decades has impacted his life and the importance of seeking out one-on-one connections.

Early Influences

Drew’s earliest mentors were his elementary school teachers. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, his teachers exposed him to wonders outside of his home and classroom, such as dance, music, writing, and photography. After graduating from Northwestern University, Drew moved to LA, where he witnessed the turmoil of the LA riots. The experience motivated him to seek out volunteer opportunities as a way to get out of his comfort zone and engage more with the world around him.

“I felt that was one of the major issues going on – that we just don’t understand, or want to understand each other,” Drew remembers. “The only way to do that is to make yourself vulnerable and meet people.”

From Mentor to Best Man

Drew signed up for a mentorship program and was paired with eight-year-old Tony. Drew sought to reflect the same principles with Tony that he learned from his own mentors. “[I gave] him the room to make decisions on his own, and then [guided] the process along the way, because that’s what was done for me,” he remarks.

One example of Drew’s philosophy in action was leading Tony through the challenges of high school to graduation and a college acceptance – only to see him enlist in the Marines instead. While Drew may have envisioned a different path for Tony, he gave his mentee the chance to make the decision that suits him best. “As a mentor, you have to allow the mentee to make those [choices] and learn from it and move through it,” Drew says.

Drew remained by Tony’s side to keep him goal-oriented, and Tony eventually graduated on the Dean’s List from the University of California, Irvine. The two remain so thoroughly committed to their relationship, both professionally and personally, that Tony invited Drew to be the best man at his wedding, 30 years after they first met.

Supporting a Lifeline for Youth

After all these years of being a mentor, Drew does not see himself giving up on his desire to connect with young people and inspire the next generation. He was introduced to iMentor Baltimore by his friend Antieris Johnson, the Manager of Operations and Special Projects, and he attended their 5th year anniversary celebration at the Government House of Maryland. He also purchased shirts through his company from the LeBron James Shooting Record Collection for the iMentor students who attended the anniversary as a token of his gratitude and encouragement.

For Drew, supporting organizations like iMentor is essential because they sometimes can be the only lifeline that students have to access the knowledge and opportunities that will help them thrive in the future. “If I didn’t have those other organizations I was in, I would have never known that there [were] these other opportunities because it wasn’t in my immediate ecosystem,” he says. “That’s why it’s important to support organizations like iMentor because you’ll know when it’s missing.”

On a personal level, being a mentor offers Drew opportunities to enrich his life by meeting people he never would have otherwise crossed paths with. “Ultimately all of this is about life experiences,” he says. “[If] I never had those life experiences, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Start your mentoring journey today! Sign up to volunteer with iMentor: