Shanol and Anthony

What happens when two intelligent, charismatic, and driven people, who see themselves in each other and share a slew of common interests, are paired together in the iMentor program? You get the “perfect match.” That’s how Shanol and Anthony are known at North-Grand High School.

Matched at the beginning of the 2016-17 program year, Shanol and Anthony bonded at lightning speed. Shanol was pleasantly surprised when he first met his mentor Anthony, having previously thought that the iMentor program was “just another class [he] had to take.” From the start, Anthony came across as an outgoing, smart, and athletic guy that Shanol could easily relate to. The respect and admiration was mutual. Shanol recalls thinking that Anthony was “just a phenomenal person.”

Jumping right into a conversation about politics, Shanol commanded Anthony’s attention as he expressed his views on the then upcoming election, which he impressively supported with facts. Talking politics gave Anthony early insight into Shanol's thinking, and Shanol's pointed questions helped him glean similar insights about Anthony. He discovered that his mentor was a passionate believer in self-empowerment and lifting up others. Shanol also learned of Anthony's commitment to helping people build confidence and ensuring they don't set their goals too low. This has been especially helpful as they work together to help Shanol achieve his dream of attending UCLA.

Shanol has good reason to set his sights high. School has always been the number one priority in his household, and the row of academic awards across his bedroom wall is evidence that he has excelled. An honor roll student, with perfect attendance, Shanol has long been on the path to college success, but his ambitions have come more clearly into focus through his many conversations with Anthony.

Seeing in Shanol a shared determination and optimism about life, Anthony has endeavored to reinforce in Shanol the mindset that he can achieve his dreams, including attending UCLA. As a first-generation college graduate, Anthony knew coming into his mentoring relationship that had the opportunity to provide Shanol the guidance that he wished he had received while navigating the college process. In particular, he hoped to show Shanol that the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Anthony is determined to help Shanol get into UCLA, where he might pursue his dreams of playing collegiate and Olympic volleyball. But beyond those goals, Shanol looks forward to expanding his worldview by taking a variety of classes and engaging with a new group of peers. As much as he enjoys learning from Anthony as his mentor, he's also selfishly is looking forward to when their dynamic becomes more equal and they can just be friends.