Joe and Danny
Like many students, Danny felt overwhelmed when he first started 9th grade at the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports (UASCS). There was a lot to adjust to—a new school, new peers, new teachers, and a new set of expectations. Trying to find the right balance during the transition had its challenges. “I had to adjust to life in high school, but I was a freshman and I didn’t really know how to do it. So, I was looking forward to having a mentor,” Danny said.
Getting Support: The Mentoring Match
Danny, who is now a junior, started iMentor’s College Ready program two years ago, when he was a freshman at UASCS in the Bronx. Through the program, Danny was matched with his mentor Joe in a four-year mentoring relationship. Joe is an associate vice president at Barclays. Always seeking opportunities to help others, Joe was looking for a mentoring program that would fit his schedule and found out about iMentor through the Barclays philanthropy email system.
Prior to Danny and Joe’s first meeting, they exchanged several emails using iMentor’s curriculum which helped them get to know each other and break the ice. Even so, neither of them knew what to expect at their first meeting. At the event, Danny was relieved because he and Joe hit it off from the start. He says, “When we met, we connected right away. We could talk about whatever, and even though we didn’t have the same exact interests, we had similar general interests like sports and music. So our first meeting was exactly what I felt like it should’ve been.”
During these critical high school years, Danny and Joe are working through iMentor’s curriculum via weekly emails and monthly events to help Danny build college readiness skills so that he can graduate high school on time and succeed in college.
Setting Goals—and Achieving Them
Since they first began working together, Joe has helped Danny learn how to develop goals and make plans to achieve them.
“Danny, like a lot of other kids, has the tendency to have big, bold ideas and no plan whatsoever on how to get there,” Joe says. “So as the year went by, I got more comfortable with giving him specific advice like, ‘Let’s get this done. Let’s get this grade up.’”
One small but important example of this was helping Danny with his time management skills. At the beginning of his freshman year, Danny was always late for his first class because he would oversleep. Joe helped Danny draw a map of his bedroom to determine the best location for his alarm clock so that he would get out of bed.
Joe explained to him: “Danny, you can’t be successful if you’re late. Half of it is just showing up. You gotta be there.” The next day, Danny put the alarm clock in the new location and he was never late for class again. Joe says, “It was a small victory, but it yielded great results.”
Last year, one of the pair’s goals was for Danny to explore leadership and extracurricular opportunities. For example, Danny was disappointed when he didn’t make the baseball and basketball teams. Rather than let Danny get frustrated, Joe suggested that Danny ask the basketball coach to be the team’s manager. Danny never considered management as an option, but it made sense. Danny says, “When I look at a game, I’m always trying to think about what the General Manager is thinking about or what the owners are thinking about, so it was a good idea.” The next season, Danny was the basketball team’s manager and he enjoyed the experience.
One of Joe’s proudest moments as a mentor was when Danny told him he enrolled to be a mentor to middle school students. Danny and Joe learned about the opportunity at an iMentor event and Joe suggested that Danny explore it. It was a paid summer position, and Danny got the job on his own – he learned more about the opportunity, reached out to the counselor, arranged all the logistics, signed up, and had started within two weeks. That was the first time Joe saw Danny taking the initiative to explore a leadership opportunity.
Joe is happy with how far Danny has come in just two short years. Danny’s grades have improved and he is excelling in his extracurricular activities. But Joe is also looking ahead.
“What I really want is for Danny to understand that whatever it is he wants to do, he can do it—he’s certainly young enough, he’s capable, he’s smart, and he’s driven when he wants to be.”
“What I really want is for Danny to understand that whatever it is he wants to do, he can do it.”