Mentoring Students to THRIVE
What does it mean to be a mentor? I met up with Katelyn Berezo, Mentorship Manager at Thrive Scholars to learn about what mentoring means to those that are just starting out their college career.
What does “thrive” mean to these remarkable students? For them, it's about “finding our own path, being able to strive and survive, finding light and hope, dreaming big and achieving bigger.” One scholar said it wonderfully: “it means living your best life.”
Thrive Scholars helps students nationwide from underrepresented, low income communities reach their goals during college in order to prepare for their life and career.
I have been mentoring a wonderful, energized and curious Math student at Baylor College through Thrive. I now appreciate the importance of this relationship for both of us. I also wanted to learn more about what Kate looks at as this is a critical and growing need. She joined Thrive Scholars last year and brings a background in nonprofit leadership and academic support services. She says this role is truly an ideal fit.
Sherry: Why was Thrive Scholars such a great fit for you?
Kate: My experiences leading mentoring programs within the nonprofit and academic support services world helped me see the immediate impact I would be able to bring to this role. Additionally, I really connected to the purpose of Thrive Scholars – helping high-achieving, underrepresented, first generation students get into and graduate from college. We all know how crucial the role mentors can play in any young professional’s growth, and I know I have greatly benefited from the advice and guidance that my mentors have offered me. If it weren’t for a mentor I met through my job in high-school, I wouldn’t have been introduced to a scholarship opportunity that allowed me to be the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college. I have since gotten the privilege of making a career out of creating spaces that make quality mentorship opportunities more accessible to youth looking to attend college and land their dream jobs.
Sherry: How do you match mentors with students?
Kate: Scholars can request a mentor at any point during their college years. Earlier on in their college journey, Scholars are encouraged to participate in our Strive mentorship track which focuses on creating strong foundations for success. As Scholars advance in their degree and focus on their career development, we offer our Launch Mentorship cycles that cover everything from navigating your first internship experience, to completing an industry deep dive with the support of a mentor.
When matching Scholars, I focus on a variety of factors such as the Scholars’ personal and professional interests, shared identity factors and experiences, communication styles, and how they like to approach projects. Ultimately, I am focused on the Scholars goals and current priorities to understand which of these factors to prioritize in the matching process. Being able to find the perfect mentor for a Scholar is one of my favorite parts of the job.
Sherry: What do the scholars most value in the mentoring relationships?
Kate: Our scholars tell us they value the consistency of the connection with their mentor. They value the regularly scheduled call, knowing that their mentor is there to support any questions or concerns they may have and that they are committed to their personal and professional development.
We look for mentors who are committed to helping fuel our Scholars ambition and invested in sharing their experience and networks. Our Scholars set BIG goals – like creating the world’s most energy efficient car, to becoming the Secretary of Education – so they can develop systems that enable everyone, regardless of their background or identity factors, to thrive! Scholars are looking for mentors who share similar passions, life experiences, and who are committed to their personal growth and career development.
We join our mentors in supporting and celebrating our Scholars accomplishments every day. We have had Scholars who have gone on to becoming the youngest Harvard-trained neurosurgeon in history, to becoming Fullbright Scholars, and more.
Sherry: We know that Diversity is business critical today, has this sense of urgency for D&I impacted your work in preparing students?
Kate: The need for diversity and equity work has always been urgent. While the national conversation has developed in recent years, our focus at Thrive Scholars remains the same. Our mission is to help high-achieving, low-income, underrepresented students get into and graduate from top colleges equipped to reach their full career potential. We know that there is significantly more to do to ensure representation in corporate leadership so it is more reflective of our diverse society.
For us, this means we support Scholars in dreaming big, exploring new industries and spaces, developing networks, and graduating with the hard and soft skills that will position them to become the leaders our nation needs. Our network of corporate partners and mentors are key players as we strive to impact change in this way.
Sherry: What do you think will take mentoring as we know it to a new level?
Kate: I think the more that influential leaders and larger companies model the power of mentorship (in both formal and informal capacities) it will create access to and transform leadership as we know it. Many people can think back to a person in their life who has served as a mentor, someone who guided them on their journey to where they are today (a former boss, professor, etc.). You never know how much power your suggestions, connections, or meaningful feedback can hold for an individual unless you decide to offer it!
If you want to learn more about Thrive Scholars you can visit https://www.thrivescholars.org/.