Above: Cassandra Avitia (right) having fun with a youth member during Pride in the Park 2017.
In honor of National Mentoring Month, We’Ced sat down with former youth reporter and current mentor Cassandra Avitia to get her take on what it means to help guide and support young people. From following the strong example set by her own mentor, to her creation of strong support systems for young people, Cassandra is a great example of what it means to be a leader in a young person’s life.
Q: How would you define the role of a mentor?
A: I would define the role of a mentor as someone who serves as a support system for another person in regards to anything they may need help. Whether they need guidance in school or in certain assignments given.
Q: When was the first time you felt like you had a mentor in your life? What did they do to make you feel you could look at them that way?
A: I have never had a mentor in my life until I became involved with We’Ced. My first mentor was Crystal Rivera. She was really kind and easy to relate to, making it easier for me to confide in her. Not only that but during that time I was a senior in high school, on my way to college as a first-generation student. I had no idea of what I had to do in order to get financial aid or how to properly register so she was in my life at just the perfect time.
Q: What are some of the things you learned from your mentor?
A: One thing I have taken in from my mentor Crystal was being able to share and pass on all the knowledge you have. Everything she had learned, for example, from college, she made suggestions of what the best route for me would be.
Q: What aspects of your life would you say your mentor helped with? School, family, personal, etc?
A: My mentor definitely helped me throughout my transition from being a senior to my first year of college. No one in my family has gone to college before, so I had no clue of what we had to do or know the steps it actually took to have financial aid available.
Q: What made you want to become a mentor to others?
A: What initially made me want to become a mentor to others was for the opportunity of personal growth since being a mentor does require a greater amount of responsibility.
Q: What are some areas you see yourself growing in now that you’re a mentor to others?
A: Some areas I see myself growing in now that I’m a mentor to others is probably being able to communicate with others. I still have a long way to improve in regards to editing, communicating, and supporting those in my group.
Q: What are your goals for yourself as a mentor?
A: My goal is to be able to serve as part of their support system because I know how much that helped me. My goal is to be there for anything I can help them with, such as navigating through school because most of the group of young people are in high school.
Q: What are some goals you have for the people you’re a mentor to?
A: Some goals I have for the people I mentor would probably be to have fresh new ideas written down for this new upcoming cycle so they have the opportunity to write about what they want.
Q: What would you say is the most important lesson to remember when being a mentor?
A: I think the most important lesson to remember when being a mentor is to serve as one. A mentor is supposed to support the entire group with whatever it is they might need to be able to successfully do [story] pieces they could proudly present.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned since becoming a mentor?
A: The most surprising thing I’ve learned since becoming a mentor is probably being able to read what everyone has experienced and lived through. I get to learn a lot from each and every one by just reading their pieces, which I think is really awesome.
Q: Have you seen growth in other areas of your life now that you’re a mentor?
A: I think I’ve seen growth in regards to leadership skills but I still believe I need a lot more to learn to be a better mentor for everyone.
Q: What is something you think is important for people to know about having a mentor or being a mentor for others?
A: I think it is important for people to know that being a mentor and having a mentor is more than just a great learning experience. It also gives you the opportunity to be part of someone else’s support system who might not have one in the first place.
Q: Anything else you can think of about what it’s like mentoring others? Or any final thoughts you have about this type of relationship?
A: I haven’t had much experience with mentors until my senior year but I think I would have had a better high school experience if I did. So being a part of that for someone else is already a success for me.