Following a hiatus from the in-person event, the College Now Mentoring program hosted its first in-person MentorInCLE Connect event since 2020 to celebrate the mentor/student pairs participating in the program and to personally celebrate the 2021 and 2022 Mentor of the Year honorees.
Held at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, MentorInCLE Connect recognized the College Now Mentoring Program students who graduated from post-secondary programs this spring and emphasized the importance of the mentoring program to all scholarship recipients. Afterwards, representatives from Team NEO and Delta Dental recognized Ann Gynn and Mala Garg, Mentors of the Year 2021-Up, and Gail Arnoff and Michael Carbo, Mentors of the Year 2022-Up. Mentors of the Year are recognized each January during National Mentoring Month and the 2021 and 2022 honorees have been honored at virtual ceremonies over the past two years, which can be viewed on the College Now YouTube channel (Virtual Event 2021 and Virtual Event 2022).
For more than 50 years, College Now has provided Greater Cleveland students with guidance and access to funds to prepare for and graduate from college.
When College Now mentors like these honorees joined the mentoring program, they made a commitment to help College Now and Say Yes Cleveland grantees navigate the college experience and complete their degrees, according to a press release.
The average first- to sophomore-year retention rate among College Now Scholars is 90%, compared to the national average of 74% for all undergraduates, and the average past three-year graduation rate for College Now Scholars is 68%. compared to the national average of 41% for students receiving the Pell Federal Scholarship, the press release said.
Students and mentors in the program do not participate in traditional mentoring, but have not lost a beat in their mentoring journeys during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release. Since the program began in 2011, the College Now Mentoring program has used a digital platform called Chronus for mentors and mentees for most of their communications. The program is designed to remove barriers such as time and space from the mentoring relationship. The program makes it easier for busy students and professionals to communicate, even during a global pandemic. Couples communicate via Chronus several times a month and can also communicate via phone, email and/or social media. Couples also meet in person several times a year, which may include FaceTime or Zoom meetings.
To learn how you can become a mentor and make a difference in a student’s life, visit collegenowgc.org/become-a-mentor.
Here are some examples of what College Now mentees said about their mentors in their 2021 and 2022 Mentor of the Year nomination letters:
• Ann Gynn, nominated by Leean Andino, one of the first students to graduate on a Say Yes Cleveland scholarship, helped Leean explore her career path and encouraged her to attend graduate school, a step she took had previously thought impossible.
• Mala Garg, nominated by Kelly Latten, was “a support system[Kelly]you could really call ‘family'” and someone who supported her as a person and as a student.
• Gail Arnoff, nominated by Sandy Huynh, helped Sandy gain confidence: “I owe a lot of my transformation from shy high schooler to accomplished grad to our relationship.”
• Michael Carbo, nominated by Abe Mustafa, gave Abe four pieces of advice that shaped his college experience: Find a job, get involved on campus, use campus resources and remember to have fun! Abe says this advice was fundamental to his college success.
As evidenced by the experiences of these students, the mentor-student relationship works to provide students with the guidance and validation they need as they navigate the challenging experiences that come with pursuing post-secondary education. The commitment and connection of Greater Cleveland’s business community to the program is also evident, with over 1,800 community members representing over 750 employers serving as volunteer mentors, the press release said.
“The mentoring program is one of the most important elements of College Now’s work, providing students with not only support but important connections to the Greater Cleveland community that can serve them long after graduation and keep them connected to our region.” , CEO of College Now Lee Friedman said in the press release. “We are continually impressed not only by the dedication of our mentors, but also by the dedication of the Greater Cleveland Community to ensure the success of our grantees.”