“Never Be Afraid of Other People”: Q&A with Arllin and Her Mentor, Nancy

Congratulations to the more than 800 iMentor NYC seniors who graduated from 13 high schools across the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan this June! We stand with your families, mentors, teachers and supporters in recognition of your accomplishments, and will be rooting for you as you start your next adventure.

Recently we spoke with Arllin, a senior at Marble Hill School for International Studies in Bronx, NY, and her mentor, Nancy Bravo, about their mentoring experience and the career path Arllin plans to pursue.

What are your plans for next year?

I’m going to City Tech to study radiology. This career path was interesting to me because I went to the doctor and they did an MRI and the radiologist was so nice and professional—the experience inspired me. I’m going to be the first generation from my family to be in college, so I’m excited and nervous.

How was the college process for you?

To be honest, it was stressful. But with my teachers’ and with Nancy’s support, it was less stressful. At first, I thought about going to a community college, but at the end decided to go to a four-year school, because I thought it was better to get a bachelor's degree.

How did your mentor help you?

She helped me to be less shy. When we went to a college fair, she was asking a lot of questions, and I said, well, if she's doing it, let me just try it. I tried speaking up by myself with teachers at school and with classmates. And today I feel like OK, I can do it.

What did you learn from your mentor?

What I learned was never be afraid of other people. That was my problem, being afraid. She told me to always ask questions if I want to get something, and to try if I want to accomplish something. At one of the iMentor meetings, we discussed job interviews and what I should do and say in an interview.

Nancy, how did you start connecting with Arllin?

I was born in the Dominican Republic, like Arllin. We connected right off the bat because of our shared cultural background. In terms of some new experiences that we shared, she had never gone far from Kingsbridge, where she lives in the Bronx. We went to NYU and explored Greenwich Village. We walked around Times Square.

How did you help Arllin during the college process?

Arllin’s made tremendous progress since the first day I met her. She was very shy and didn't speak a whole lot of English because that was [only] her second full year in the U.S. At the meetups we used to speak a lot in Spanish. I did that just so I could get my points across to her. I took her to a couple of college fairs at NYU, at Jacob Javits. At NYU they gave out these free SAT prep books that had sample multiple choice tests. I said, take this book and just do 10 questions a day over the summer.

Roll forward to September 2018, this school year, I said, wait, where’s the Arllin from last year? She came in, her English had improved so much that when I started talking in Spanish, she replied to me in English. She had learned so much over the summer. And her SAT scores increased enough that she was eligible to apply for certain CUNY four-year schools.

How did you support your mentee with selecting a college?

I was leading her to schools that were closer to her in the Bronx, but they happened to be community schools. She was accepted to Bronx Community College and City Tech in Brooklyn, and I said, this is great that you have these two colleges—are you sure you would want to go to City Tech? You have to do a trial run so you know how long the commute takes. She did, and she ended up picking City Tech. I was very surprised. I said, you blew me away with this decision. She said, I'm not afraid of a long commute, because I'd rather go to four-year school. I said, I'm glad you didn't listen to me.

What are you proudest of your mentee for?

Her personal growth from a shy, timid girl to a very confident woman. She learned enough English so that she converses very confidently. She got out of her shell, participated in the senior fashion show, and got involved with extracurricular activities. She's more than just a student—she's interacting with people, she plays sports, she is confident enough to travel by herself.

What's been the best part of being a mentor?

I learned that I can make a difference. I don’t have kids, but I was always busy and there were so many times I wanted to sign up to volunteer but never went through. I learned that it doesn't really take that much of your time to make a huge difference in somebody else's life. Just two hours a month to connect face to face with a high school student. And yet, it can make such a huge difference in somebody else's life.

Read more success stories featuring iMentor students. Learn about becoming a mentor in Baltimore, the Bay Area, Chicago, and New York.