For the past few months, I’ve worked as a high school mentor with the organization College Spring. And the experience has changed my life. This is a short reflection on how my time in the program has affected me.. meant to encourage readers to find an important cause, learn about it, and get involved.
College Spring is a non-profit dedicated to closing the opportunity gap in America, and it serves high schools in low-income areas by providing them access to college-prep resources at no cost to students. College Spring forms relationships, implements programs, creates curriculum, and finds teachers that can increase opportunities of higher achievement and education for students. Their slogan is "Potential made possible"... and it's so fitting because they work to help students receive the opportunities they deserve. Through being an active mentor, College Spring also served me in ways I didn’t realize they would. I learned so much throughout the program, especially during the time I spent with my students. I've been able to make relationships that truly left positive impressions on me, and I’ve created more perspectives for myself as a young adult traversing through life.
Social-psychology studies have shown that value-affirmation, positive thinking, and confidence building can be attributed to higher scores for students of color. Whereas white students have access to affirmation through positive reinforcement in the media, movies, and figures they learn about, many black and hispanic students lack that representation. Being aware of this link between positive reinforcement and academic success, I am that much more driven to be a black academic, young professional, and active member in my community. Meeting my College Spring mentees, 3 boys, and giving them information, advice, and affirmation has been so important to me. Their achievement impressed me. As did their eagerness to learn, understand, and participate— whether we were talking about SAT math or college life. I left every single mentor session with a genuine smile on my face. I don’t think they realized how much it meant to me to see them show interest, express real concerns, joke around, and make mistakes, and for them to embrace my help. Every time I left their school, I felt relieved of the daily stress I was dealing with before. For a couple hours a week, all I worried about was that my students felt supported and understood the lesson I had planned for the day. Hearing their stresses and the ways they interpret things helped me continue to understand the different stages of life we are all in. It helped me appreciate where I’m at independently. It reminded me to consider life as a bigger picture, and worry less along the way.
Lack of diverse representation, widening gaps in America (and the world), and unequal opportunities are all issues that need to be changed. These are things that are worth considering, studying, and affecting. I encourage you all to be beacons of success and positivity, and to radiate that into the world. You never know who you may inspire along the way, or what image you represent to someone else. I also encourage anyone reading this to find a cause that inspires them, study it, and get involved. Become active in whatever fight you're called to because, as cliché as it may sound, your work can change the world.
Below you can find a number of photos from the College Spring website, showcasing their achievements as an organization and highlighting the academic studies they conduct to monitor the success of their programs.