Mentors act as experienced and trusted advisors. They lend their professional and personal support to those they call mentees, guiding them through pivotal moments in their lives. This relationship isn’t one-way, though. Mentors’ lives are also enriched by the relationships they build with their mentees who represent our city’s future leaders and changemakers.
Mentorship can come in so many different forms. A mentor can be an industry leader with impressive connections, offering resources and professional advice. Some mentors are champions, empowering their mentees to reach for that next level in their personal or professional lives. Other mentors act as the co-pilot in the trenches with their mentees, helping them navigate new places and faces.
We sat down with Sarey Barragan, a member of the A Better Chicago staff, who has had multiple mentors throughout her life.
Q: How important was it for you to have different supports during the various stages of your educational career?
A: The never-ending support! Even after I was no longer connecting with these organizations every day, they were always there for me. Whether it was a call or an email, I always felt like I had someone to turn to when I needed help or advice. The relationships don’t end when you graduate from these programs. For example, my Chicago Scholars mentor, Nicole, was at my college graduation.
Q: You mentioned your mentor, Nicole. Can you share more about the role she’s played in your life?
A: My junior year in high school was really stressful. My mother was ill, and it was hard to deal with that and think about college. At the time, I didn’t notice, but Nicole helped me find positive distractions. Nicole had gone through something very similar when she was in high school, so she knew how I was feeling, and she suggested that I put all of my feelings on paper. I always liked journaling, which led me to put my feelings out there without feeling like I had to say them out loud. Eventually, that was how I started developing my college application essay. She turned the challenge of applying to college into an opportunity of growth and was there to support me through my personal struggles. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to put my all into applying for college without her being there for me.
Stories like Sarey’s are why we support several organizations that incorporate mentorship into their work with Chicago youth. Get to know our grantees more here.