Mentorship: A Shared Commitment towards Success
By Jamie Anzellotti, SVP, Global Consumer Banking November 19, 2014 01:45 PMThis post is part of a series inspired by Pathways to Progress, a Citi Foundation initiative that works with community partners, city officials and Citi employee volunteers to help low-income urban youth develop the leadership experience, professional skills and the workplace know-how they will need on their path towards college and careers. Follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Pathways2Progress
Anika is a thriving sophomore at a university in California, a long way from her hometown of Brooklyn. When I first met Anika five years ago through iMentor as a high school sophomore, I could tell she was smart and determined, but travelling cross-country to live in another state can often be a challenge. And all I knew then about Anika was that she loved math, cheerleading and music - especially Justin Bieber - and that she had strong ethics and a passion for Italian food.
All relationships take time and effort to bloom, especially between an adult and teenager - and as expected, ours also took time to develop. During her junior year, Anika and I would spend many evening and weekend hours poring through enormous college guides to narrow down California schools that fit her needs. Although there were times when we went through some difficult periods, we were both committed to her future and success. I began to see her mature and express her appreciation for mentorship, which made me want to work even harder for her.
By recognizing the importance of patience and perseverance, Anika and I were able to dive deeper, so that our mentoring relationship could flourish and we could learn more about each other. The questions I had about Anika's college and career paths eventually melted away. Although it wasn't always easy, the experience enabled us to both grow together - and the results are inspiring. I also credit iMentor's program model of incorporating in-person and online meetings between mentors and mentees, which helped us develop a strong foundation during the initial stages of our relationship.
Since boarding that flight and heading off to California, Anika has excelled in an environment that gives her intellectual, cultural and social freedom. She participates in challenging courses and budgets her free time in order to complete her assignments. She keeps in touch with me via Facebook and texts, and we have plans to catch-up at her favorite Italian restaurant during summer break.
While she credits me with helping prepare her for college, I know very well it was her sheer determination that led her to where she is today. I was simply there on the sidelines to cheer her on. I tried to let her know that today's struggles are tomorrow's successes, and one day she would look back on the college application process with a smile. Together, we shared our dreams, struggles and worries. To this day, I make sure to tell her how incredibly proud I am of the woman and scholar she has become and remain committed to helping her foster her dreams and aspirations.