Mentor Profile: Kali D'Anna
As members of Needham Steps Up, both mentors and mentees have the unique opportunity of getting to know one another beyond the school walls. I found this to be so important in developing a trusting and open relationship, and in understanding some of the struggles that my mentee faced. Organized programming helped my mentee to feel like she was part of something larger, and individual outings gave her someone to be accountable to, who valued her. I had the privilege of watching my mentee grow from a student who cared more about socializing at school than working to her academic potential, to a motivated, organized high school student, to a thriving college student. She became more inquisitive, thoughtful, and curious about options for her future and was challenged to think about these things in ways that she might not have, had she not been involved in NSU.
My mentee and I spent many mornings catching up during the car ride to school, sometimes with a stop at Starbucks on the way. We went on a college tour together, met with representatives from local colleges together, and even completed her FAFSA together with her mother, to ensure it was submitted on time. After graduation, we had a celebratory lunch and although we have not seen each other since then, we have maintained contact. I check in with her about how college/work life is going, and she asks me to send her pictures of my baby daughter.
Community support, in many forms, continues to be invaluable for the students of NSU. For my mentee, her parents are immigrants who have not gone through the college application process in the United States. They were unable to guide her in the same way that many of the parents of Needham High School’s students are able to, and would greatly benefit from the support of community members in providing this guidance. NSU provided my mentee with the financial support to allow her to participate in important transitional programs (e.g., driver’s education and an SAT prep course) that may not have been available to her otherwise. She has told me how much she appreciates our relationship and what NSU has provided for her. I hope that this program can continue to positively impact the lives of our students, as I have seen firsthand.