Celebrating National Mentoring Month with Girls Inc.
At Girls Inc., we understand that trusted, positive mentorship is a critical factor in helping girls achieve their goals. This National Mentoring Month, we highlight the importance of mentoring relationships while showcasing the impact these relationships have made in the lives of Girls Inc. participants. Our Brand Ambassadors share their stories about how their Girls Inc. mentors influenced their lives.
Kayla, Alumna from Girls Inc. of the Central Coast
Elizabeth Contreras, Deputy Director at Girls Inc. of the Central Coast, serves as both my former employer and mentor, providing unwavering support. Throughout high school, while working as a paid after-school facilitator alongside her, I gained valuable leadership and professional skills. She believed in my leadership abilities as I facilitated programs for kids, and she emphasized that confidence is a skill I can grow. Elizabeth is tremendously hardworking and her dedication to Girls Inc.’s mission inspired me to champion Girl’s Inc.’s values in my life. Her mentorship and support empowered me to pay mentorship forward as I served as a role model to numerous young girls as a youth leader. She is a big part of my life and I am grateful for all the support she has given me and countless other girls.
Aubrey, participant from Girls Inc. of NYC
My Girls Inc. mentor advocated for me as I was being bullied, validated my feelings, and ensured the proper measures were being taken for me to receive retribution. After one of my peers told me to “go back to my country” my instructor, Evelyn Fernandez of Girls Inc. of New York, allowed Girls Inc. to be a safe space where girls aired their grievances about similar experiences. She took those anecdotes and with our express permission brought them to the attention of our school’s administration, forcing them to have an open conversation about bigotry within our school community. What I took from the experience was that while I can’t control the hate the world throws at me, what I can do is turn to my community for support. In every sense of the world, Girls Inc. is a collective of strong, smart, and bold individuals who will show their unwavering dedication to students in need.
Grace, Alumna from Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest
Someone who’s made a big impact in my journey to be smart, strong, and bold, is Hannah Hall-Dolezal. She’s the college and career readiness program coordinator at my affiliate, Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest. Hannah was a mentor to me in a multitude of ways. I was introduced to her during my final year of the Eureka! program. The summer of that year was when we did our 5th year internships, and she worked tirelessly so that they would all go smoothly. She would hold weekly check-ins with us to see how things were going, and see if there was anything she could do to support us. Knowing that someone had my back gave me the confidence I needed to succeed during my internship! Later into the year, she gave me the opportunity to help pioneer a mentorship program. I was able to go into a local Girls Group and spend some one on one time with one of the girls who was in need of a smart, strong, bold mentor. Throughout this time, Hannah gave me great advice on what it means to be a good mentor, and made sure that I had all the resources I needed. I’m so grateful for the bits of knowledge and support that she gave me throughout my time in the Eureka! Program, and the opportunity to become a mentor, just like she was to me.
Fernanda, Alumna from Girls Inc. of San Diego
I will never forget about my senior year Girls Inc. mentor, Stephanie. She was always there for me when I needed her the most. During my senior year, I had many depressive episodes during the college application process. I started doubting myself and felt like I wasn’t good enough. I would struggle to simply wake up and go to school. My only motivation was that after a long day of classes, I would see her and my other friends from Girls Inc. Stephanie made me realize that I am so much more than what I look and sound like. I am a strong woman who was able to overcome the language barrier. She’s the one who encouraged me to apply for the Brand Ambassador position because she always believed in me, even when I didn’t. She would always tell me and the other girls to say “Hi!” if we saw each other in the hallway. To this day I say hi to every person I know because you never know how much it means. I want to thank Stephanie for making Girls Inc. a safe space for me. I enjoyed it so much that I even stayed in school after my AP Calculus exam to go to our weekly meeting.
Willow, participant from Girls Inc. of Greater Houston
Girls Inc. holds a special place in my heart for the female mentors they place in members’ lives. While my journey with Girls Inc. has been mainly virtual, regardless my experience has been very impactful. From virtual sessions in STEM, where I’ve gotten to meet female trailblazers in historically male-dominated fields, I have felt empowered to be a leader within my community in computer science. Each mentor’s story has been instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today. Mentorship goes beyond just guidance — it fosters an environment where I discover my capabilities and potential. I’ve used my mentee experience to pay it forward to other younger individuals in my community. Becoming a mentor myself, I strive to empower others just as I was empowered. Whether it is hosting free computer engineering classes or helping underclassmen at my school navigate through course schedules and extracurricular activities, I’ve realized that the ripple effect of mentorship doesn’t just change individual lives; it impacts entire communities.
Audrey, Alumna from Girls Inc. of Alameda County
Through all of the stress and turmoil that senior year brought, Judy was the calm in my storm. Judy joined Girls Inc. in April of our junior year, and over summer, our bond grew through field trips to different UCs and CSUs with pit stops to the beach or even hiking in the Redwoods of Northern California. Despite her short time with us, Judy never failed to empower us and provide meaningful insight to any of our teenage problems. When it came to writing scholarship essays, Judy was there. Through FAFSA college applications, or even Monday afternoon breakdowns, Judy was there with a warm smile and a fat hug. Through her altruistic care for us and our futures, Judy showed us the importance of mentorship in addition to exemplifying an amazing role model that all of the girls in my CAN! Program was proud to look up to. Having a mentor like Judy taught me the importance of passing down knowledge and advice in addition to aiming to be supportive for my friends and family even if it’s in little ways. Judy taught me that the smallest gestures are often what matter the most. Most importantly, Judy taught me to not overthink little problems and to value myself, even if it means putting my needs over others. Now, I am able to pass on mentorship to the younger girls around me, and be a better friend to my friends and family. Every day, I am so happy and blessed that Girls Inc. brought Judy into my life!
Renee, Alumna from Girls Inc. of Shelbyville and Shelby County
In my Girls Inc. Experience, there has been one mentor that truly stands out above the others. Although I do not remember her name, I clearly remember the lasting impact she had on me. Her impact on me has been nothing short of transformative. She did more than just guide me, she inspired me and instilled in me the courage to be strong, smart, and bold. Through her, I learned that being strong does not just mean physical strength; it’s resilience in the face of adversity. Being “smart” isn’t confined to academics; it is the wisdom to navigate the challenges and complexities of life. Boldness isn’t spontaneity and recklessness; being bold is having the courage to embrace new opportunities. I learned that having a mentor means having someone who sees your potential even when you doubt it yourself. Under her guidance, I discovered my true capabilities. Now, as I mentor others, I understand the tremendous impact one person can have on someone. I try to teach everyone the lessons I was taught by my Girls Inc. mentor, inspiring everyone to be strong, smart, and bold.
Maya, participant from Girls Inc. of Orange County
Walking into the great halls of Santa Ana College, the walls towered over me and fear took over my body. Unfamiliar faces filled the room, as I searched for an empty seat in the vast ocean that was the hall. Anxiously waiting for the first session of Girls Meet the Workforce (an externship program at Girls Inc. of Orange County) to begin, I continue scrolling through Instagram on my phone.
Suddenly, a bright ray of sunshine enters the room. I’d come to know her as Allison, one of the Girls Inc. staff at my affiliate, but also one of my mentors. Throughout my time at Girls Meet the Workforce, Allison was always encouraging and understanding, and she helped me gain confidence in my abilities. With her support, I was able to launch myself into the workforce with my first internship.
Allison not only prepared me for my personal career success, but also modeled a mentoring relationship that prepared me to act as a mentor to others. Through my various extracurriculars, as a club president at my school, a peer tutor, and mentor to freshmen, I’ve learned how to truly support others the way that Allison supported me.
Ria, participant from Girls Inc. of Worcester
My Girls Inc. mentor, Taylor Rich, is someone who supports me endlessly. Since I started working with her a couple of years ago, Taylor has connected me with Girls Inc. in more ways than I could have imagined. For instance, it’s hard for me to commute to my programming location and just when I thought things wouldn’t work out, Taylor offered me a solution: I now join monthly meetings on Zoom. This way, I can stay engaged with my cohort and participate in fun activities even when I’m at home. Recently, she helped me complete my application for the Girls Inc. college scholarships. Throughout this journey, she was only an email away. Taylor helps me in challenging times and is a big part of my Girls Inc. Experience. I am forever grateful to have a mentor like her.