This year in the ACES Program, I had the pleasure of mentoring two freshman scholars throughout their first year at Ohio State: Abby McNickle and Yaretzi Leos. Abby is an out-of-state student from Connecticut, currently studying English Education. Yaretzi, on the other hand, is from the local Columbus area in Hilliard, studying Early Childhood Education. Despite our year getting cut short, I developed strong ties to both of my mentees and learned tremendously about their experiences at Ohio State.
Over the course of this year, I have connected with both Yaretzi and Abby in numerous, distinct ways. Although Abby and I are from different states, I also have family that lives in Connecticut. We both also aspire to teach in a high school environment. Yaretzi and I both are able to speak Spanish; while I learned Spanish in school, Yaretzi is of Mexican descent and speaks the language with her family. All three of us are studying to become educators as well.
Nevertheless, despite sharing countless similarities, we also shared our differences as well. Specifically, while Abby and I both are from out of town and live on campus, Yaretzi commutes to campus and lives at home in Hilliard. Beyond that, despite both living on campus, Abby is from out of state, while I am from the Cincinnati area. These differences between myself and my mentees have exposed me to two distinct perspectives on the college experience. I have learned the pros and cons, along with the values and principles, that derive from not only a local, commuting student, but also a far-away-from-home student. In effect, I have come to realize how diverse the OSU student population is, along with recognizing that each and every college student has a unique, individualized college experience.
Looking over the course of this year, I saw both Abby and Yaretzi grow immensely between first and second semester. I saw both of them get more involved on campus in student organizations and clubs. I saw both of them connect with fellow ACE Scholars throughout the year, finding a home within this community. I also saw them both grow in their passions for education, primarily through their experiences with FEEP. I hope to continue to see them get involved, connected, and successful in both their academics, extracurriculars, and social lives.
For me, the ACES Mentorship Program has also served a great purpose. It has helped me grow as a leader and as a role model for those around me. I developed two authentic and strong friendships with my mentees this year, and I am so glad I got to know both of them so well throughout the year. From this year, I learned that the most important part of being a mentor is genuine care and support. By showing my mentees that I truly cared for them, I felt that I connected with both of them on a personal level. Every time we were able to get together to catch up, it was always a great time, and I’m extremely thankful for that. I hope to take the skills of being a role model from this opportunity and apply it to my future as a role model and leader in new contexts.
Throughout this year, I felt that I helped my mentees in a variety of ways. I was always available to answer their questions and concerns in regards to ACES, education, Ohio State’s campus, and so much more. I provided them my own insight and takeaways from my own freshman experiences to connect with their ongoing situations. I also provided opportunities for future involvement on campus by telling them about what I was involved in, along with telling them about other organizations I knew of from others. I still hope to serve as a source of support for Abby and Yaretzi, whether it be a social question or an academic matter.
Reflecting on this program, there are a plethora of benefits to being involved. One of those benefits is the ability to connect with first-years as they get adjusted and welcomed into the campus dynamic. I saw it as an extreme privilege to watch Abby and Yaretzi grow over the course of this year, along with providing insight and support to help them continue growing as students and as Buckeyes. I also was able to make two great new friends out of this experience. I hope to keep these fresh, newfound friendships strong throughout the rest of my college career and beyond. I am so grateful to have been a part of this program, and I hope Abby and Yaretzi both found the same level of joy and fun that I did throughout this year! Thank you for this opportunity!
Disclaimer: due to COVID-19, I do not have any new pictures with either of my mentees from this semester. Pictures I have from last semester can be seen from past posts!