Running For A Better Future: Adrian’s Story

Adrian Villarreal is a Chicago native who always envisioned himself going to college. Having earned a BS and MEd from the University of Illinois at Chicago, he previously worked as a Program Manager with iMentor Chicago. He now works as the Senior Assistant Director of Employer Relations & Development for Computer Science at The University of Chicago. He credits much of his success to his personal mentors and seeks to pay it forward as a volunteer mentor and supporter with iMentor Chicago.

Being a Role Model

Living in a single-parent household, Adrian relied on his mother, friends, family, and high school teachers to provide extra guidance and support. They encouraged him to embrace challenges and always seek more for himself – values that he champions for his own mentee, Demonte. For Adrian, a mentorship is a two-way street; he learns as much from his mentee as his mentee does from him.

“Growing up without a father, I discovered the strength to embrace the void in my life and strive to become [a] mentor and role model for younger generations,” Adrian says. “As a Latino male from a low-income neighborhood in Chicago, I was blessed to have the opportunities I had because of the people around me who believed in me and gave me hope for a better future.” As a role model, Adrian says that consistency, commitment, and thoughtful communication are key to engaging with mentees.

More Ways to Support the Mission

Adrian became a volunteer with iMentor Chicago in 2022. In addition to being a mentor, Adrian uses his other passions to raise awareness for iMentor’s mission. Earlier this year, he used his participation in the Paris Marathon to fundraise for the iMentor Challenge, an annual campaign that invites members of the iMentor community to fundraise within their networks. He shared his connection to iMentor through word of mouth and social media in order to amplify its message to new audiences.

Wearing his custom-made iMentor Chicago shirt, Adrian not only finished the marathon, but also surpassed his fundraising goal. This is one of the many ways that mentors and supporters alike can creatively turn their hobbies and talents into fundraising opportunities for iMentor.

“I wanted to leverage a unique, life-time opportunity to support a non-profit organization that I am passionate about and expand the visibility of the organization,” Adrian remarks. “iMentor believes that every student should have a mentor, regardless of background or post-secondary pathway, and I believe in the organization's mission to close the opportunity gap and support thousands of first-generation, underrepresented students like me.”

To learn how you can fundraise for iMentor, contact [email protected]. You can also show your support by making a donation today.