Rosemary & Farjana

When Farjana first met her mentee, Rosemary, at the Business of Sports School in New York City in 2015, they didn’t say much. They didn’t “click” right away, as some iMentor pairs do. But Farjana saw some of herself in Rosemary—she was also a quiet, shy high schooler. Because of this, Farjana knew she needed to be patient with Rosemary and let the relationship develop at its own pace. The discovery of a common interest—Justin Bieber of all things—helped Rosemary begin to open up.

As her comfort level with her mentor grew, Rosemary started confiding in her about the academic roadblocks in her way. When Rosemary transferred to BOSS in her sophomore year she was missing credits; and she was struggling academically, especially in math. Farjana took matters into her own hands and scheduled a few one-on-one tutoring sessions with Rosemary. They met at Farjana’s place of work, the Citigroup offices, and worked together (with the help of a few YouTube videos) to catch Rosemary up. Eventually their study sessions became a pre-exam ritual and then just a way for them to spend together.

It’s fitting that Citi is where the pair grew closer; Citi is where Farjana first learned about iMentor. “I wanted to volunteer because I also grew up in the New York City public school system. I went to a CUNY school, not far from home, but I still felt underprepared. Not academically, just the soft skills, life skills, things I wish I had known.”

Farjana’s division at Citi has many iMentor mentors. The group gathers often for events, networking sessions, and even pair meet-ups. Since partnering with iMentor in 2012, Citi has grown their volunteer community to more than 200 pairs, and Farjana has enjoyed the networking opportunities that come from that community.

“I think mentoring has helped both of us come out of our shells a little bit!,” Farjana said. By working with a teenager, Farjana has broadened her communication skills and has noticed that change at work. “I absolutely think other Citi employees should volunteer as well. We all live and work in New York, and there are students here who could really use the advice and knowledge we have. It’s just two hours every month, and it’ll make a huge impact on a kid’s life.”

For Rosemary, that impact has been real. She didn’t envision college as a part of her future until she met Farjana. Rosemary has always aspired to be a chef and didn’t think college was needed to achieve this goal. Farjana was the first adult to tell Rosemary that she needed management and math skills to make this dream happen. When they first met, Rosemary was not on track to graduate high school. But with Farjana’s support, tutoring, summer school, a few extra classes, and a lot of hard work, Rosemary graduated high school on time! She is now enrolled at Monroe College in a culinary arts program.

“She’s an amazing young adult,” Farjana said. “I’m so happy I’m in this program, and I’m so happy that I had the honor and privilege of working with Rosemary.”