As the executive director of Student Life at Youngstown State University, Jonelle Beatrice understood well the power of mentoring. At the beginning of each new school year, she paired all incoming freshmen, most of them first-generation students, with a mentor to ensure their success. The students, she found, had amazing abilities, but many lacked certain skills. They just needed that little extra support that comes with a trusted advisor.
Now residing in Sarasota, Jonelle read an article about the Education Foundation of Sarasota County’s mentoring program. Intrigued, instead of pairing a student with a mentor, she chose to be one. She reached out to Jeffery Blanchette, the mentoring manager, and this June attended mentor training and was paired with Madison Christian, a senior at North Port High School.
The two began to talk on the phone, establishing a trusting relationship, and soon they met to prepare for the ACT test. College applications loomed for Madison, and having a mentor helped allay the stress—especially as her senior year of high school quickly approached. The two discussed colleges, and Jonelle was careful to listen and find out what was best for Madison. Together, they researched colleges. They weighed pros and cons, identified safe schools—and favorites. Jonelle discussed financial aid and scholarships, and she helped Madison formulate a short- and long-term timeline to ensure she completes her applications and applies for scholarships amid the pressure of senior year. Thanks to this level of support, Madison will begin the new school much more prepared to realize her dreams.
Jonelle is grateful to have this opportunity, which she finds so rewarding. She is especially excited that this relationship is only starting. Jonelle will continue to support her mentee throughout Madison’s senior year and onward throughout Madison’s college journey—something Jonelle knows so well.
Jonelle could not be more aware of the ways that mentoring changes lives, the ways, as she says, it opens doors. And through her work facilitating mentoring at the college level and now as a mentor, she has opened countless doors.
The mentoring program is always looking for new mentors. If you would like to make a difference in the life of a high school junior or senior, learn more about our mentoring program.