Meet Our Mentors: Kimberly Henderson

Kimberly Henderson, who previously mentored a student at Phoenix Military Academy, returned to start a new three-year relationship this fall. We caught up with Kimberly to ask a few questions about her previous relationship with mentee, Tiarra and what inspired her to champion the success of another deserving student. Check out her responses below.

What inspired you to be matched with another young woman in our program?
I have the ability and availability to commit time and energy to a new mentoring relationship. Moreover, I believe in iMentor's mission, vision and purpose. Mentoring is so important to me and allows me to reflect and share my experiences, including failures or 'learning opportunities' as I usually say.

Tell me about Tiarra - what is she currently up to?
Tiarra - Wow, what a wonderful mentoring connection - a winning out-of-the-gate experience, and now a forever relationship! Tiarra is doing BIG things in New York! She has powered through the first year at Mercy College, majoring in Business and Finance, balancing honors courses, and holding leadership positions in numerous organizations, such as Student Government Association. Tiarra has not closed any doors to opportunities to learn and grow both educationally and professionally. Her drive and determination are inspirational and her energy to be the best representation of herself is empowering. It's a pleasure to catch up with her weekly - I love hearing about the newest endeavor.

We say the most important qualities of a good mentor are patience, fun, unconditional support, consistency and honesty. Which of these qualities have you found especially important in your relationship with Tiarra?
Tiarra and I committed to being consistent and honest throughout the 3-year program and beyond. I assured her I'd provide a foundation of support that exceeded her expectations. It was important to show and prove to Tiarra, in addition to the monthly planned events at Phoenix, that I was committed to providing unconditional support, time to connect, and being the voice of reason when needed. I promised to offer a listening ear, empathy and acknowledgement of her achievements, no matter how big or small.

What are you looking forward to in your second match?
I am looking forward to motivating my new mentee to feel empowered, make sound decisions, and supporting her to reach her goals throughout high school and after. Building on my experience to engage with a new prospect, finding the right balance and utilizing the mentoring qualities you referenced. My hope is that my new mentee and I will establish a genuine partnership and have a successful school year.

What do you plan to do differently in your next match? And what are some things you will keep doing that have worked well within your relationship with Tiarra?
Reflect, evaluate, design the alliance and individualize since this is a new Mentor/Mentee relationship. I will commit to and create a sustainable effort to mentor with support, honesty and fun. I will keep some of things that worked well with Tiarra, like providing a listening and empathetic ear, understanding and commitment to her success, then level set expectations, never overpromising - which is my standard set of tactics.

What piece of wisdom would you offer to new mentors?
First, would be to know this is a 3-year obligation - the mentees need your time, energy and commitment. Secondly, it was important to me to contract and structure the relationship by setting expectations (e.g., trust, feedback, goals, and accountability). Plan to be active and attentive - those efforts will morph into an equal partnership with both parties benefiting. Mentoring is one of the best self-rewarding, shared-developmental and beneficial acts to pay forward.