The Volunteer Center Fellows are honored to have selected M.E.N.T.E., which stands for Mentors Empowering and Nurturing Through Education, as one of the Fall 2013 recipients of the Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement. M.E.N.T.E. is a one-on-one mentoring program for students at Alain LeRoy Locke High School, a Green Dot public charter high school in South Los Angeles. M.E.N.T.E. aims to increase the number of high school students applying to and enrolling in universities, colleges, and vocational schools. The program consists of seven components: mentorship, tutoring, information sessions and workshops, career and college exploration, scholarships and internships, community service and civic engagement, and a support system.
Last year, fourth year Environmental Science major and M.E.N.T.E. Vice President Valentina Lin (also a Volunteer Day 2013 Project Leader at View Park High School) was paired with a mentee who was very shy, uncomfortable opening up about her life experiences, and was not thinking much about attending college. As the year progressed, Valentina gradually saw her mentee open up and become more interested in learning about applying to college. Fast forward one year and now, Valentina sees her mentee almost everyday because she is now also attending UCLA too. Her mentee is even thinking of coming back to M.E.N.T.E. to serve as a mentor for other Locke High School students. As Valentina and her mentee demonstrate, M.E.N.T.E. is truly so much more than a one-on-one mentorship program. Beyond emphasizing academics, M.E.N.T.E aims to change the attitude towards secondary education that many of these first generation, minority students are surrounded by. M.E.N.T.E. aims to inspire these students to think ahead, to be critical thinkers, and empower their own communities. Fourth year Biology major Marcos Munoz explains further, “We hope to instill in our mentees that academics is important but also we want them to be able to come back to their communities and start a chain reaction, because the truth is, I don’t want to see M.E.N.T.E. there forever. The point of M.E.N.T.E. is to empower these students so that they can then empower their own communities.”
On any given Friday afternoon, about 35 Locke High School students voluntarily attend the workshops and one-on-one mentoring that UCLA students provide. The program takes place at a computer lab at Locke High School, which is a very valuable resource for the students because some of them do not have Internet or computer access at home. The first part of the site visit consists of interactive presentations and group activities that focus on important topics like how to write a personal statement, how to apply for scholarships, how to prepare for an interview, and what community college is. The second part is the mentorship component. Seniors are matched with a UCLA mentor who can address all of the students’ questions and give personalized advice. Sophomores and juniors who aren’t quite ready to learn all about the specifics of applying to college receive information from their mentors regarding class schedules, extracurricular activities, financial aid and scholarships, and other life-skills that students will need to be successful in the future.
By using technology, M.E.N.T.E. is really taking mentorship to the next level. In order to accommodate students who aren’t able to physically attend the Friday afternoon site visits due to work, sports, or other commitments, M.E.N.T.E. offers a “ghost mentorship” program that connects Locke High School and UCLA students via email. M.E.N.T.E. has also developed an innovative website where students can find valuable resources such as a scholarship list, a high school guide to resume building, interview tips, as well as upcoming events. M.E.N.T.E. also offers field trips, community service projects, and two scholarships to students.
Thanks to M.E.N.T.E., students who may not want to attend college or are unaware of the importance of attending secondary education or are on the fence about furthering their education are able to get personalized mentorship. Not only has M.E.N.T.E. helped more students apply to secondary education but it has also completely changed the mindset of hundreds of high school students by making them aware of their unlimited potential to obtain their dreams.
The Volunteer Center Fellows would like to thank M.E.N.T.E for their dedication to the students of Locke High School by offering the student organization the Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement for Fall 2013. For more information about how to get involved in M.E.N.T.E., visit:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Meetings: Wednesdays 6-7pm at Bunche 2160
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mente.ucla/
- Website: https://sites.google.com/site/menteempoweringyouth/home