Wanted: Mentors for Youth by Erin Cesmeli, BOA Student Leader

Mass Mentoring Partnership defines mentoring as “a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the mentee.”

There are many different places youth can find mentors. One of the main environments is… SCHOOL. Naturally, it would make sense for young people to be able to find caring and supportive adults at an institution geared towards developing the competence and character of students. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

I am a 17 year-old rising senior at Lexington High School. I go to a school full of incredibly skilled teachers, counselors, and administrative officials. However, when asked if I had a mentor at school, I could not think of one person I saw as my mentor. This is not to say that I haven’t had helpful adults in my life at school or that I feel neglected every time I walk through those high school doors. Instead, I do not have an adult that has consistently checked up on me throughout my three (almost four!) years of high school and addressed all aspects of my life.

I can confidently say that I have had “fleeting” mentors at school. A new teacher each year becomes my mentor for ten months. My school counselor becomes my mentor for two weeks each school year. I have had administrative officials check up on my academic progress (every now and then). But, if you ask me if I have a mentor at school, my answer will be no.

However, I am fortunate enough to have parents who practice the five elements that make up developmental relationships: express care, challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities. For this reason, my parents were able to make up for my nonexistent mentor at school. Unfortunately, not every young person is able to say they have mentors at home, which makes mentors at school all the more crucial.

Mass Mentoring Partnership recognizes this issue that exists for the youth. Working at MMP has taught me the most efficient ways in which a nonprofit can function to create impact. MMP not only offers “short-term” relief, through our Program Services Department, but also “long-term” change, through our Advocacy Department. I am continuously amazed at the unremitting nature of this organization. And I thank MMP for fighting for me and every other youth in the state.

Erin Cesmeli was the 2019 Bank of America Student Leader at Mass Mentoring Partnership. #bankofamericastudentleaders