Now in its second year, New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School
(P-TECH) recently hosted a Mentor Day to better connect the school’s ninth and 10th graders with the IBM volunteers who are helping them navigate their academic and workplace learning programs. Each student, faculty and staff member at P-TECH is
paired with an IBM mentor as part of the partnership that is preparing P-TECH graduates
for college and career success – building in-demand skills for future needs in the areas
of Big Data, Cloud Computing, Mobile Computing and Social Business. Below, IBMer
Karen R.Thompson writes about why she mentors at P-TECH.
As a child growing up in Alabama, there was nothing off limits to me. I had major support from my parents, school and church. I grew up with an excellent view of the world and of the goals I wanted to accomplish. Now that I have migrated north, I have noticed that many children in the inner city don’t have the same opportunities or support that I had to help me succeed. I became a mentor at P-TECH to do my part to bridge that gap.
As a P-TECH mentor, I have the privilege of imparting knowledge and pledging my support to help one young person reach his educational and life goals. I want my protégé Oliver to know that nothing in life is impossible – that education creates access, which opens doors to his heart’s desires. The education Oliver is receiving at P-TECH is giving him a head start on college courses in the 10th grade. How awesome is that!
During our Mentor Day this month, I got the chance to sit down and talk with Oliver about his aspirations while we completed our mentor/student activity, which was to create a flag that reflected our shared joys and values. Oliver is not a typical 10th grader. He is quiet and reserved, but wants to use his technology education to make an impact on the world one day. The flag we created depicted four of our shared interests:
- Technology, represented by computers and other peripherals,
- Our desire to travel the world, represented by the globe,
- Our love for the State of Arizona, represented by the cardinal, and
- Our families and our faith in God, represented by human figures and the cross.
Oliver did all the art work. He’s extremely talented, and I don’t mind saying that our flag was best in the class!
The flag activity gave me a chance to share some insights into high school and college with Oliver. The advice I gave him was to:
- Broaden his horizons by engaging in extracircular activities that will expose him to different cultures, languages and opportunities,
- Stay focused through 11th grade, since his grades through that period will determine his class rank and potential for college scholarships,
- Surround himself with positive people who are walking in the same direction as he – toward college, and lastly
- Remember to have fun while staying focused on his job of getting an education.
Being a mentor is a HUGE honor that I don’t take lightly. As IBMers, we have been blessed to work for a company that cares about the future of our children. Become a mentor; look for opportunities to give your support to a student who can benefit from the depth and breadth you have gained during your career. You never know. That young person might aspire to goals they would never have thought of if you hadn’t helped them bridge the gap between where they are and where their dreams (and hard work) can take them.
Karen R. Thompson is a Project Manager with IBM Global Services’ Client Management and Resource Optimization team.