Why I Value Mentorship
I truly believe every child deserves a consistent, positive role model. Luckily for me, I’ve had many. Being the youngest of three, my sisters are driven and have always guided me by setting a good example.
Being physically active and having caring adults is what taught me so many life lessons and skills. As I reflect on my childhood, I watched my sisters actively pursue higher education and noticed that being involved in sports and artistic activities is how I naturally built so many relationships. My coaches and instructors were caring and thoughtful, just like my sisters, and truly showed passion in their work. They inspired me and whether they know it or not, they helped me build my skills, gain confidence, and understand the importance of having a team.
In high school, I was voted captain for four years which gave me a voice. I was able to use my skills as a leader and began mentoring others in a sport I had passion for. College is where I learned about networking and how patience and consistency can leverage a relationship.
What would a college student do without an academic advisor mentoring them throughout their college experience? I’m not sure but mine saved my life and set me up for success.
The word “Mentor” means faithful and wise advisor. In Greek mythology, Mentor is a friend of Odysseus and tutors Athena’s son, Telemachus. In the Odyssey, Athena assumes Mentor’s form to give advice to Telemachus or Odysseus. I value mentorship not only because of the knowledge and skills we learn, but also because mentoring provides personal and professional support. High quality and intentional mentoring greatly enhance a person’s success. Research shows that students who experience good mentoring throughout college have a greater chance of persisting in graduate school or securing career advancement. If I did not meet these caring role models throughout my educational career, I am not sure I would have learnedmy passion or understood the meaning of “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.”
As I continue to grow, I’ve gained many new mentors whom I consistently seek for feedback. I lean towards them for advice personally and professionally. Becoming a strong leader in many school communities, I have been given the chance to mentor youth. This is how I identified my passion for youth mentorship. I enjoy rapport-building and making new friends. I value being a listening ear and helping youth grow throughout life.
Being a Latina and growing up in Philadelphia, I faced similar barriers as many youth face today. I value my experience and relatability and use it to describe how I overcame adversity. As a mentor, I encourage my mentees to believe in themselves, to stay consistent with their goals, and to mentor others. This is how I impact social change and why I value mentorship. I get to be that positive caring adult that supports others, just like my sisters, and past and present mentors have done for me.
Pam Martinez is the FAO Schwarz Fellow at Playworks Philadelphia.