When I joined the Mentor Match program, I didn’t know quite how it would go at first. At the time, I was getting involved with various social development programs because my school system, Lexington Public Schools, was having a very hard time providing me with services so that I could learn how to do certain daily tasks, such as managing my time with homework on my own. Having a mentor wasn’t anywhere within my immediate plans; all I wanted to do was get by high school, make friends, and graduate. That was it. Unfortunately, I didn’t yet have the skills/tools to achieve those goals on my own, so I was open to getting some help from a mentor.
One day, I met with Kristin Humphrey at my house to discuss what kind of a person I would look for in a match. I thought about the many kinds of people in my life, and who I was able to connect with the best. I listed mostly women, as I felt a woman mentor would be able to listen to what I have to say, but also able to give me their input and help talk out certain situations with me.
Around December 2011, on one of the snowiest days you can imagine (well, except for winter 2015), I met with Kristin and my new mentor, Cassie, at the Boys and Girls Club in Arlington.
Cassie and I regularly met from around January until sometime early June, and to my surprise, talking to Cassie changed more things in my life than I expected. For any teenager, time management is one of the most difficult skills to learn—but one of the most important for college and adult life. I was definitely no exception to this rule. Although I still struggle with time management, as I’m sure other adults and college students do, I learned a lot talking to Cassie about how I can structure plans with my friends, where/when to meet up with them, and when to do my homework. Talking about problems in school really helped put things into perspective so I can know how to handle a current, or even future, situation.
Cassie and I also shared stories of events in our lives and our experiences. For Cassie it was talking about college life; for me, it was sharing my interests in TV shows like Doctor Who and about my various writing projects that I was working on.
She’s shared a lot about her life and of some of the challenges she was going through when it came to transitioning from college into grad school. She told me a lot about how she’s interested in philosophy and even studying other religions. One day, about a year or two after the Mentor Match program with Cassie ended, she told me something that I seriously did not expect to hear: she was going to convert to Islam. I was very interested as to why she wanted to become a Muslim during this part of her life. From what I remember, she told me that the religion of Islam closely reflected her beliefs and she wanted to explore what the religion better reflects in her life. Since she converted, I learned a lot more about Islam than I ever had from any outside information I was studying. In 9th grade, I did learn a lot about what Muslims contributed to science, medicine, and astrology, but to actually talk to a real Muslim about issues affecting the community was very intimate.
Although our time with the program officially ended, we still see each other and communicate on a somewhat regular basis. We’re both very busy people trying to get by in school or at work, but whenever we do check in, it’s always great knowing that she’s still there for me after all this time.