On paper, iMentor student Oluwabukola looks like the kind of student who doesn’t need much in the way of mentoring.
Bukky, as she is called by friends and family, is a high-achieving student in her sophomore year at Binghamton University. In addition to managing a full workload, she is treasurer of the African student organization, is an active member of the dance team, and holds a part-time work-study job.
“I remember thinking that Bukky was very disciplined and mature," recalls Bukky's mentor, Anna, of their first meeting in 2011, when Bukky was a junior in high school. "She already had a resume and cover letter and knew she wanted to study math and finance. I wasn’t sure how I could help her.”
Bukky, who is originally from Nigeria, moved to New York City with her mother and two siblings during high school. Although her family was supportive of her desire to go to college, her mother was unsure of how to guide her through the college process. That’s where Anna proved invaluable.
It was Anna’s similar experience as a foreign-born student navigating the U.S college system that provided a common ground for the pair. Anna grew up between Moscow and Tokyo and, at the encouragement of her own mentor, moved to the United States during 12th grade to attend college.
“I was fortunate to have influential people in my life who were able to advise me, especially through the complicated college process,” said Anna, a vice president at Amur Capital Management. “Being able to provide Bukky with the same support was personally very important to me.”
With the help of iMentor’s curriculum and comprehensive support, Anna made sure that Bukky successfully navigated the post-secondary process to narrow down her list of schools, write application essays, and fill out financial aid forms.
Ultimately, Bukky was accepted to 10 colleges. “Now that I’m in college,” says Bukky, “the most important thing Anna helps me with is time management. She helped me create a schedule to make sure I stay on top of everything.”
But for Anna and Bukky, iMentor’s program was just the beginning of their relationship. Over the past three years, celebrating important milestones and spending holidays together have become regular events. When Bukky left for her first semester of college, Anna was alongside her family at the bus station to see her off. And last year, Anna attended church with Bukky and her family on Christmas.
On a recent weekend visit, the two took the train from New York City to the Hudson Valley to tour Anna’s alma mater, Bard College. They spent the day on campus, visiting the business school and discussing Bukky’s interest in a career in finance.
In October, the pair shared another memory when they were honored at iMentor’s 15th Anniversary Benefit. There, Bukky and Anna took the stage to share the most meaningful aspects of their relationship with more than 500 guests.
As they look ahead to 2015, they're looking forward to working together as Bukky prepares to transition to upper-level coursework and secure a full-time summer internship in New York City.
“We both went into the program open-minded about what to expect,” Anna explained. “For us, there was never an ‘I’m the mentor and you’re the mentee’ moment. We learn from each other and have built a true friendship. I can’t imagine my life without her.”