In October 2011, 95 IBM mentors met with their protégés at New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) for the first time. P-TECH is a new model grades 9 through 14 school located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, and many of its students will be the first in their families to attain the associate degree they’ll receive along with their high school diplomas. It’s going to be a long haul for the ninth graders of P-TECH’s inaugural class, their teachers and their mentors. But if P-TECH’s remarkable 100% attendance rate, the inspired leadership of the school’s principal and teachers, and the dedication of IBM’s volunteer mentors is any indication, those years will be full of promise and reward. IBMer Christine Vu was one of the mentors who visited P-TECH.
Christine’s story: “When I asked my protégé Indica why she enrolled in P-TECH, the most striking thing she said was ‘Other classmates and I would be the first graduating class, and to me I find that to be something big.’ Indica’s words made me think: It is big! Aside from graduating with a high school diploma and an associate degree in technology, Indica will have the opportunity to shape and define what this academic experiment will look like, and help determine whether it can be successful for future students in New York and around the country.
What Indica said also made me wonder what impact I would have as her mentor. I think the act of mentorship is as much about fulfilling the role you wish someone had played in your life when you were younger as it is about giving to others. When I was in high school, I had a challenging and rigorous schedule filled with AP classes and extracurricular activities. But this left little time for me to engage with teachers or other adults on what was happening in the greater society. It seemed like there was no one to challenge my thoughts and ideas, or to help me visualize my future as an adult or as a professional. I ended up forming these impressions through the process of trial and error during college.
While Indica and I are different people from different backgrounds, she has many of the same dreams and goals that I had at her age. Indica wants to learn and to grow, and to be successful in all aspects of her life. After visiting P-TECH, I am confident that Indica will have the lesson plans and resources she’ll need to build up her technical knowledge and skills.
Meanwhile, I plan to be available when Indica has the ‘other’ questions such as ‘How important are internships?’, ‘Why should I vote?’, or ‘Do I really need to spell check?’”
- Watch the CNN Video coverage of the P-TECH Mentor Event
- Visit IBM MentorPlace
- “Volunteerism and Citizenship: One Mentor’s Story” by Ethan McCarty
- “Degrees Remain Elusive for Most Community College Students” by Stanley S. Litow, President, IBM International Foundation