Why I mentor: Katelyn Biancamano, integration coordinator at Staples

January is National Mentoring Month, and we are highlighting a number of perspectives on mentoring, events, and ways you can get involved in the field. Today’s blog is a Q&A with Staples’ Integration Coordinator, Katelyn Biancamano, a mentor at the John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation in Framingham. Katelyn's mentee is a Framingham High School student who she has mentored for almost two years. Staples is supporting a statewide mentoring public awareness campaign for the third consecutive year.

  1. Why is mentoring important to you?
    I began mentoring as a way to give back to the community. I have been lucky enough to have positive influences and support throughout my life, so I wanted to be able to help others experience that.
  2. What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had mentoring?
    I can’t choose one particular experience that would stand out as the most rewarding. The reward is the relationship that you are continuously building with your mentee.
  3. What piece of advice do you find most helpful for the people you mentor?
    I actually feel that it is most important not to give advice when mentoring. It is important to be there for your mentee and be supportive and a good role model, however, you want them to learn on their own and be who they are, not who you want them to be. You find that they don’t need advice to make the right decisions or to act appropriately. The whole program is more about helping the student realize their own potential, and to learn that they are in control of their life and future, and that there is importance in every decision they make.
  4. What advice would you give to other adults looking to become mentors?
    I would think any mentor in the Mazie Mentoring Program would agree that you get just as much, if not more, out of the program than the students do. My only advice would be to give it a try, and don’t worry about whether or not you think you would be a “good mentor”. The Mazie Mentoring Program does an excellent job at matching students with mentors, and while you could be matched with someone from a completely different background, you will be surprised at how similar you and your mentee are, and how great of a friend you will have.
  5. Who has been a mentor in your life?
    Growing up my parents were always extremely supportive and were great influences – I was very lucky to have that. They helped shape my morals and values growing up, and helped me to be the person I am today.
  6. What inspired you to become a mentor?
    I had always been involved in community service activities throughout my life, but once I graduated college I didn’t have as many opportunities presented to me, and I found that I wasn’t taking the time to seek out these kinds of opportunities. I saw an advertisement on our company portal for the Mazie Mentoring Program, attended an informational session, and knew it was the program for me.

The John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation is dedicated to helping aspiring Framingham and Waltham High School students realize their full potential. For more information: www.mazie.org/become-a-mentor