My name is Joann Nguyen, and I am a buildOn senior attending the High School for Teaching and Profession in Bronx, NY. My school is very strict with attendance. Many students don’t show up to school, and the overall attendance rate at HSTP isn’t that great. HSTP had been invited to participate in the buildOn Success Mentors Initiative to help tackle this attendance challenge. This initiative consists of buildOn high school students mentoring freshman students with chronic and/or severely chronic absenteeism.
This initiative has many steps involved; it is not an easy task. For example, many of our mentees have issues with opening up to their mentors, as well as showing up to school. As a buildOn Success Mentor, I feel like I can change the status quo in the school. I constantly talk with my mentees in between classes to get to know them better. One small step can change a lot; if I can help my mentees come to school, and give them a reason to stay in school, it will be a much easier task for everyone to continue with this initiative. This initiative is a hard task for the buildOn Success Mentors, but it is becoming easier persuading the mentees to show up to school and become involved, only because they hear this from students like themselves.
They do not feel intimidated to speak to me because I am their mentor; I will not penalize them for what they feel and what they tell me. I find it great that the buildOn Success Mentor initiative exists not only because it will help increase attendance and graduation rates, but it will also change a lot of the students’ lives. At first, it was awkward for me trying to get to know someone who already built up a wall to keep others out; however, it started to progress and get a bit easier as I kept trying. My mentee’s attendance started to increase, and I found ways to talk with them and befriend them without being pushed away.
It really is self-gratifying to work with these mentees. Not only have I grown from this experience, but I’ve also realized that taking small steps can help many people, especially students. I appreciate being in this buildOn initiative, since it gives me the chance to help others who are experiencing similar challenges like me when I was a freshman. The buildOn Success Mentors initiative gives students a second chance to fix what was wrong, gain a more positive head start, and become better people. It was an honor to work with my mentees and seeing them improve over the months since I first began. buildOn Success Mentors is a success!