In honor of Women’s History Month, today we’ll be hearing from one of our esteemed AmeriCorps Ambassadors of Mentoring on how mentoring has impacted her, how she views mentoring, and how we can best support her and all women in the field of Mentoring. Specifically, I’m honored to be joined by Windry Figueroa, who is serving at the Chica Project.
1. How do you feel mentoring as an institution affects young women, and how do you think the field could improve in this area?
Personally I believe that mentoring young women is extremely important because they are faced with a lot of society's thoughts on how young women should look, act, and be. It's an important step in helping women understand that they have a voice and that no one should change who they are. We cannot expect change from one night to the other but we can make apparent changes by constantly encouraging our women to be powerful and to be themselves. I believe this is being done but it must continue to be done in a way that society is able to see that someone is there for all these women.
2. Can you tell us about a female mentor that has had an impact on your life?
I can think of so many women that I have crossed paths with who truly inspire me and have created changes within me, but I believe that I will always be grateful to Nurys Camargo, the founder of Chica Project. Being in this program allowed me to be at peace with who I was to not focus so much on what others wanted me to be. She found so many ways to connect with me - for her being loving wasn't enough. She was silly, transparent, and tough on me when I needed it the most. She plays a great role in my success as a human, and I am me because she told me it was ok to be what God created me to be and thanks to her I am able to SHINE!
3. How can your male co-workers and colleagues best support you and serve as allies to you?
The best way for my male colleagues, friends, and family members can serve as an ally is by acknowledging my intelligence and my potential by listening to me and allowing me to express myself even though they might not agree with the way I think.
4. Who is a woman who inspires you, and why?
I am extremely inspired by my mother. She is a strong, resilient, and humble woman. My mother has worked so hard in her life to reach the goals she's dreamed for herself and even before she walks towards those dreams she makes sure that I am able to reach mine. The days her heart is heavy she still finds a way to never give up: she puts a smile on her face and walks out the door to care for others. She puts herself last and that's something not a lot of people are willing to do, and all I can do is thank her for making me the most special young woman for having her as a mother.
5. What would you say to a young woman considering signing up for a mentoring program?
DO IT! Even though you might think you won't gain anything out of it, still try it out. You will find people who go through similar issues as you, people who look like you and know what it's really like to walk in your shoes. You will meet people who will love you so purely as if you were their own. When you walk away from that program all you will think about is how all those people are your home away from home.
Sam Steed is the MMP AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring Communications and Network Outreach Associate.