September 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm , by Joy Wingfield
Fall season’s in full swing and I can’t help but reminisce about high school. Senior year to be exact. Who can forget the whirlwind of emotions: Regents exams, acne, boyfriends, breakups. The list goes on. But perhaps the most stressful time of year was those painstaking few months before graduation, where all of life depended on whether or not I made it into the university of my choice.
This is where a good mentor comes in handy. She’s often your ally and your guide through every hurdle you’ll soon face before entering the grand halls of college: mounts of school applications, reference letters, nauseating financial aid forms, personal essays, etc. For the average 17-year-old from a working-class household, these are daunting tasks.
Debi Lee is one of many dedicated mentors at Minds Matter, a national non-profit organization that shepherds highly motivated, low-income high school students starting sophomore year. “An old roommate of mine asked me to co-mentor with her in 1996 and I’ve been doing it ever since, ” says Lee, a corporate bank executive in New York City. “My parents told my brother and I that the main reason they migrated to the U.S. from South Korea was for us to get a good education. They used to post rankings of Ivy League schools in the kitchen so we’d see it every day.”
For many students with parents who work long hours, aspiring to top schools, even with a stellar grade point average, is a huge challenge. At Minds Matter, more than 1,400 new and experienced volunteers are dedicated to helping 500-plus young people reach their college dreams.
“It’s been an amazing process,” says Lee. “I look forward to the day when one of my mentees becomes a mentor through Minds Matter. It would accomplish the full circle I have in mind.”