Two different pairs, two different paths to college

No two mentoring pairs share the same story. And when it comes to college, the path to get there can take many different routes. Each year at iMentor, more than 1,000 students and their mentors embark on this winding and often-challenging journey together. Read on to learn how two pairs took divergent paths to reach the same goal—mapping out a plan for college.

10th Grade Pair

When they were paired a year and a half ago, Javani and her mentor, Candice, decided right away to start setting goals around Javani’s college plans. At the time, Javani was only in the 9th grade, but Candice knew her mentee had big dreams, and she was determined to help her achieve them.

The first goal the pair set was improving Javani’s English grades. At their monthly meetings, Candice came up with a plan that included celebrating Javani’s small victories and helping her break down the hurdles of each of her assignments. Their strategy worked, and they’ve stuck with it ever since.

“Candice is a good role model because she shows me anything is possible,” Javani said. “She has a lot of resiliency and it encourages me to be more resilient as well. I’m looking forward to when she helps me fill out my college applications and when I tell her what school I’m going to!”

12th Grade Pair

iMentor student Elvis and his mentor, Adam, were matched in 2012. While Adam was excited about the program, Elvis was hesitant and reserved. His first few emails to Adam were curt and included phrases like, “Even though the school is making me do this…” or “I’ll try to be there…” when they discussed meeting up at monthly events.

Adam didn’t let Elvis’s apprehension deter him. He responded with emails overflowing with enthusiasm, modeling the kind of behavior that often leads to breakthroughs—consistency, persistence, and encouragement. It took a while, but things began to change.

Elvis started writing longer emails. He let down his guard and began engaging with Adam on a deeper level. And when the pair decided to sign up for a mentor-mentee basketball tournament, things really began to change.

Elvis became more active in class. He didn’t miss a single iMentor event. And then the most exciting news of all arrived.

“I am most proud of finishing all my applications and getting accepted into two of my six colleges,” Elvis wrote Adam in November.

And then, two weeks later, “Make that four colleges, man.”

Elvis and Adam’s story illustrates what happens when a mentor helps a young person unlock his potential. Unlike Candice and Javani, who started off strong and developed a plan early, Elvis and Adam need a bit of time before their relationship blossomed.

No matter where a mentoring relationship begins, says Lena Eberhart, managing director of iMentor NYC, if consistency and commitment are present, positive change will be the outcome. “When you have a mentor who is in it for the long game,” Eberhart concluded, “we see our students’ minds open and their worlds expand. They begin to see college as a real next step.”