Roger and Roger: A Meeting of the Minds

As students navigate learning remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, iMentor pairs are also finding ways to handle the difficult conditions in their personal lives that the pandemic brings. For Roger Lily and his mentee Roger, staying connected has been challenging. According to the mentor, the two are trying to keep “a positive attitude and take it one day at a time.” Recently, Roger L. was able to attend his mentee’s Senior Review before his graduation.

Roger Lily is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and helping out his community. A Certified Public Accountant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, his expertise is working with nonprofits—and he’s logged numerous hours as a volunteer for various local efforts. Still, he wasn’t sure what to expect when he signed up to be a mentor through the mentor2.0 program of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico.

“I went in thinking it was going to be awkward,” Roger L. said. “I'm not super old, but I'm older now, and it was kind of strange to think of interacting with high school students, to be honest. And I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like.”

His apprehensions were immediately put to rest the moment he met his mentee, Roger Templeton, a freshman at Amy Biehl High School. “Literally, the very first thing, my name is Roger, and my mentee’s name is Roger. So right off the bat there was already something funny that we bonded over. He has a similar background to me. And once we sat down at that first meeting and shared a little bit about each other, we immediately connected.”

Early on in the sessions together, Roger L. admitted to his mentee that he was not the most devoted student while in high school. It was the kind of honesty his mentee appreciated. “I got in trouble when I was a kid,” Roger L. said. “I think the neat thing about that is my mentee gets to see where I was then and where I am now.”

Mentee Roger T. is now a senior and preparing to graduate. He counts his mentoring relationship with Roger L. as a main driver in helping him chart a course for life after high school and remaining focused on his goals. “My life would be different if I hadn’t met my mentor because he provided me with so much wisdom about his own high school experience and about his own high school failures and how he bounced back from those failures,” said Roger T.

Roger L. sees his role as a mentor as being a resource of experience and someone who can guide his mentee towards the things he is passionate about and ensure he stays on track. “If he tells me he's interested in something,” said Roger L., “it's all about what I can do to help move that forward.”

Since Roger T. had always shown an interest in working with his hands, the pair managed to find a local community college, Central New Mexico Community College, that offered a trade program in carpentry. Roger T. has already begun taking classes there while still completing his high school studies. “I’m actually getting really good at carpentry, and I love doing it. I just love manual labor,” said Roger T.

Roger L. has yet to have his mentee make something for him but he’s impressed by the results of Roger T.’s woodworking so far—which include key holders and mail sorters. And he loves seeing his mentee Roger T. so excited about his work. “I think I lucked out. I have a great mentee. And he puts in a lot of effort. And I think that the mentor2.0 program is also putting in a lot effort.”

For his part, Roger T. feels very fortunate to have his mentor Roger L. assisting him as he navigates his post-secondary life. “From meeting Roger and getting to know him, he has so much dedication to his job, and he is so engaged and passionate about it, it’s inspiring, and I’m glad I met him.”