Kahron and Brett: A College Exploration Journey

Kahron, a graduating senior at the Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE) in Baltimore, has always had an interest in understanding how things work. From an early age he loved using his creativity to build and create things. He quickly realized that he had an interest in becoming an engineer, specifically computer engineering where he could build and create technology. This eventually led him to attend the University of Maryland with a full scholarship.

However, the idea of college initially seemed daunting to Kahron. He wasn't sure if it was the right path for him or if it would truly align with his goals. It was during this time of uncertainty that he was matched with Brett, through iMentor Baltimore, a Senior Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst, who would become his mentor.

Initially, Brett was nervous because he wasn’t sure if he would immediately connect with Kahron. Brett anxiously awaited their first communication, hoping to hit it off. However, things didn't click right away. Kahron seemed a bit detached from the program, and Brett was unsure how to support him given their age gap.

Once they began focusing on Kahron’s interests outside of school, Brett learned that Kahron had a passion for photography. This immediately peaked Brett’s interest because he used to consider photography a hobby. This started a new trend where whenever Brett would come across something visually appealing, he would snap a picture and share it with Kahron. To his delight, Kahron started reciprocating and sharing his snapshots. He would send snapshots of the sky, of the stars, or even moments with his girlfriend during their walks in arboretums or park gardens. It became a shared activity that acted as a bridge to deepening their bond.

Photo taken by Brett Tolbert and Kahron Brown

As the two continued their conversations they discovered that they not only had a shared interest in photography but also engineering, and Brett would quickly become an invaluable resource for Kahron.

“He's the type of mentor that will push you and make sure that you're on top of everything. He’ll always send reminders if I need to do something for college or if I need an update on how the college process is going,” Kahron says. “He’s all around just a good mentor, someone that I can talk to about anything, whether it is academic related or personal.” 

Brett and Kahron discussed the value of education, and although Brett understood that it may not be the right move for everyone, it was critical to at least keep it on the table as an option. He explained that college not only provided the necessary skills but would spark creativity and allow Kahron to discover additional interests outside of the world of engineering.

With each conversation, Kahron's doubts began to fade, replaced by a growing sense of excitement and optimism towards college. He first warmed up to the idea of trade school before realizing that he wanted to attend a four-year-university. The more he learned about the opportunities that awaited him, the more convinced he became that pursuing higher education was the right path for him.

Initially faced with a long list of potential schools, Brett understood the importance of narrowing down the options. Recognizing that staying in-state was a priority for Kahron, the pair diligently researched various institutions and their programs. Despite his wide range of interests, Kahron carefully evaluated factors such as scholarship opportunities, tuition costs, and the availability of strong programs in different fields.

Working together, they created a detailed spreadsheet that considered key criteria, including the potential for switching majors, if his interests changed. Once the list of schools was finalized, Kahron took charge of the application process, using Brett as a guide and advisor. In the end, Brett provided Kahron with letters of recommendation.

Although the payoff was immense, with Kahron eventually committing to the University of Maryland with a full scholarship, neither Brett nor Kahron have any intention of letting their relationship fizzle out.

"I want him to take in the whole thing, it's not just about academics, but also about the social aspect, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, and all the opportunities that come with it. My hope is for everything to go well for him, and one day he'll be ready to look for a full-time job and I would be there to support that process,” Brett says, “I am eager to assist him in navigating the job search process, including finding internships and building professional networks. Ultimately, what matters most to me is that he gains the valuable experiences he may not expect.”

Photo taken by Brett Tolbert and Kahron Brown

When reflecting on the influence that Kahron has had on him, Brett acknowledges that he has learned a ton from this relationship. He has gained a deep understanding of the concerns and thoughts of younger people, allowing him to create safe spaces and build relationships.

“I’ve been able to understand exactly what is on the minds and what's the concern of younger people and how to address their problems, I’ve learned how to create a safer space to allow people to talk and how to just relationship build in general.” Brett continues, “You really aren’t ever taught the proper ways, or techniques of relationship building, and I feel like this is something that'll help me professionally, and not just with someone that's younger than me, but with anyone.”

Through their shared bond, Brett and Kahron not only created a mentoring relationship, but created a partnership that has benefited both. The impact of the relationship will not only set Kahron up to succeed in college but will also create a lasting relationship, that will turn into more of a friendship.

As Kahron embarks on his journey as an engineer and computer enthusiast, his experiences with Brett and iMentor will serve as a foundation for his future. Armed with knowledge, guidance, and a strong support system, Kahron is poised to make a lasting impact and leave an incredible mark on whatever career and life he decides to build.