Keisha Carter was born and raised between New York City’s Harlem neighborhood and Teaneck, NJ. After attending college and law school outside of New York, she returned to the city for graduate school. “I grew up here and saw a need for mentors for African American students,” said Keisha. “I think it’s important for them to hear about people from their background who have gone on to college and been successful. It’s also important for young people to hear about overcoming struggles on the path to college.”
In 2012, Keisha began mentoring a high school student Dalyia, who was a freshman at Frederick Douglass Academy II (FDA II).
Now an attorney with Bloomberg, LP, Keisha knows what it’s like to persevere. At the start of her own freshman year of college, her mother passed away. While dealing with her grief, Keisha struggled to stay focused academically. Over the next two years she experienced several setbacks on her path to college graduation.
“Going through these challenges helped me understand that you’re going to have setbacks in life and you can come back from them, and still do well,” said Keisha. “I did need extra help and tutoring—but struggle doesn’t mean failure.”
Through hard work and mentorship from a dean at her university, Keisha graduated from college with honors. Now, one year into her four-year match with Dalyia, Keisha feels privileged to share some of the lessons she took away from the experience with a young person eager to earn a college degree. Keisha was introduced to iMentor in 2012 through a corporate partnership between Bloomberg and iMentor. Dalyia, who dreams of attending law school, was thrilled to be matched with a black female attorney. “She’s the perfect match for me,” said Dalyia.
At monthly in-person events and through weekly e-mails, the pair discusses everything from the highs and lows of their weeks to getting a head start on Dalyia’s college list. Keisha is looking forward to helping Dalyia research each school’s entry requirements to ensure that she has a range of colleges to apply to that match with her interests and goals.
For Dalyia, the best part about having a mentor is being able to talk with an adult about the steps required to get into college—and also about what she should do now to ensure she is prepared for the process. “At one iMentor event, we drew a map to high school graduation and all the things that need to happen between now and then,” said Dalyia. “We talked about keeping my grades up so that I can get scholarships to college, and saving up money through working.”
Keisha is impressed by how much the pair has grown since they began working together just one year ago, noting that she has become a better listener and Dalyia has learned to be more open about her feelings.
“I understand Dalyia a lot more now, and that came from just being quiet and allowing her to express herself,” said Keisha.
With Dalyia on the college track and Keisha recently joining iMentor’s Executive Leadership Council, a group that provides strategic advice to grow iMentor’s programs, the pair has a lot to look forward to in the next three years. Keisha is especially looking forward to spreading the word about iMentor’s work among colleagues and friends.
“I became a mentor because I wanted to impart the idea that, if you stick to a plan for your education and stay focused, you can overcome challenges,” Keisha says. “There’s such a need for this work and I want to be a part of the effort to bring others on board.”
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