Ashley and Emily: A Journey to Friendship

When Emily Troxler was in high school she loved volunteering. She would spend her free time reading to elementary school kids, helping them with their homework, and playing playground games with them. However, years later after graduating and moving to New York, she knew there was something missing from her life, something that made her feel fulfilled and like she was making an impact.

It was perfect timing for an email to be sent around her office with an offer to attend an iMentor information session. Emily happily signed-up to attend and immediately connected with the program's vision and structure. The program's commitment to one monthly in-person or virtual meeting, supplemented by ongoing communication, resonated deeply with her. Eager to become a mentor and have the chance to positively impact a young person's life, Emily embarked on a life-altering journey.

When Ashley Serrano first heard of iMentor, in her Junior year at Bronx High School for Law and Community Service, she thought it wasn’t anything more than a school thing. Ashley didn’t understand what it was like to have mentor and didn’t expect the profound impact it would have on her.

When Emily was paired with Ashley as her mentee their relationship blossomed rapidly. Emily not only helped Ashley with college applications and post-secondary planning, but acted as a sounding board for Ashley.

Emily consistently played a vital role in providing unwavering support and guidance to Ashley. Their early conversations revealed that Ashley had an ambition to become a teacher, which stemmed from the enjoyment she got from helping her younger sisters with school. Empowered by this dream, Ashley actively engaged with the iMentor program, dedicating her time to attending recruitment events and eloquently sharing her experiences, thereby inspiring potential mentors to join iMentor's community.

“If you feel like you have the inner knowledge and passion and can take your time to help another person it is a fulfilling thing to do, you don’t know how much talking to one person can set someone’s life on the right path,” said Ashley.

Emily's role evolved into that of a reliable confidant, offering guidance and encouragement to Ashley, who proved to be independent and driven, tackling challenges head-on. Together, they navigated the intricacies of the college application process, discussing potential schools, financial aid considerations, and the essential qualities necessary for Ashley to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.

“It's evident that the impact it has had on her life is remarkable, as she now wants to extend that opportunity to other students. Witnessing her passion to share her experiences and ensure others have the same chance is truly inspiring. It's a proud moment for me,” said Emily. “Moreover, it aligns perfectly with her aspiration to become a teacher, as she naturally embodies the qualities of a mentor and nurturer, always eager to support and guide students along their educational journey.”

When it was finally time to decide on a college, Ashley had several options. Emily helped her narrow down her list by asking questions about, how far she wanted to be from home, how much financial aid she would receive, and whether the schools had the curriculum that would help her become a teacher. These efforts culminated in Ashley deciding to attend Mercy College in Brooklyn, where she was given a scholarship and admitted through Mercy’s Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT) Program.

Ashley and Emily’s relationship was never just about academics. Beyond academic pursuits, their relationship grew deeper, transcending the confines of their mentoring roles. Emily became an honorary member of Ashley's family, attending milestone events such as graduation barbeques and sharing in the joy and pride of those closest to Ashley.

Although their relationship was rock solid, it began during the peak seasons of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their opportunities to see each other in person were limited, as a result the two jumped at an opportunity to attend iMentor’s 2022 Champions Dinner. At the event, Ashley was given the opportunity to ask Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, and Clara Wu Tsai, the co-Owner of the Brooklyn Nets a question. This experience was a large bonding moment for Ashley and Emily who not only got to interact in person, but in a large group of people.

“Most of our interactions have been one on one. So, it was great to just see her interact with other people and see the way that she carries herself with confidence, among people who are older and different from her,” said Emily. “When she got to stand up and speak everyone was really impressed with her. I felt so happy for her and so proud of her.”

Today, as Ashley embarks on her college journey at Mercy College in the Bronx, their focus shifts. Emily's support transitions from academic guidance to helping Ashley strike a delicate balance between her studies, social life, and personal well-being. As Ashley's dreams of becoming a teacher persist, Emily, with unwavering dedication, ensures that her mentee receives the support and guidance she needs, and above all else has a friend she can talk to.