A Mentor for Life: Ekta and Jamila’s Story

Ekta was first matched with her mentee Jamila at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies in 2021. Ekta has been a formal and informal mentor through various organizations and personal relationships. Jamila enjoys expressing herself creatively through art and may want to enter the film industry in the future. Over the course of two years, the pair has overcome numerous hurdles to set Jamila on the path to college, forging a familial bond in the process.

Building the Relationship

Like many mentoring relationships, Jamila and Ekta’s took time to build. Ekta looked forward to the opportunity to join iMentor. Jamila, on the other hand, was “nonchalant” about receiving a mentor and getting to know a new person. Jamila’s reluctance did not deter Ekta from trying to make a connection.

“I just opened myself up to [her], which helped her open herself up to me,” Ekta recalls. “I would talk a lot about my daughter and about my life and [how] I came here as a student and all the challenges I faced.”

Ekta’s efforts did eventually make an impression on Jamila. “She was understanding. She said basically, take your time – whenever you feel comfortable, you can tell me,” Jamila says. “And that’s what made me feel comfortable.”

Going the Extra Mile

At the time, Jamila was not thinking about earning a degree. As the pair grew closer, Ekta began motivating her to take the next steps towards college. In tackling applications and financial aid forms, they spent time outside of their monthly iMentor meetings to maximize their progress together.

Ekta went the extra mile to make sure her mentee was well-supported throughout the process. “Even when I was on holiday, that’s the time she was finishing up [the] application and financial aid, so I was even helping on vacation,” she explains. “I really wanted her to have all the support that she needed.”

Jamila is now enrolled at Baruch College. Ekta’s influence on Jamila hasn’t stopped in high school; she already sees her mentee becoming more confident and proactive when advocating for herself with her professors and counselors on campus.

“She’s almost like my second daughter”

Jamila and Ekta’s mentorship has come a long way since their initial meeting. As Ekta reflects on the impact that Jamila has had on her, she says: “This is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. There’s one person whose life you are able to change [and] they will have that life forever. She’s almost like my second daughter.”

Jamila shares similar sentiments about her mentor and the guidance she has given her life’s trajectory. “She definitely helped me with a lot. She’s actually the reason why I got into college,” Jamila says. “[She’s] kind of like a guardian angel.”

We need more mentors like Ekta to support students through high school and into college. Become a mentor today!