Molli Powers, Butler University
Why did you join College Mentors for Kids? When I joined College Mentors as a freshman, I was looking for a way to get involved in the Indianapolis community and meet the children who could be my students one day. I had no idea the impact it would have the rest of my life or that I would start my teaching career at one of our former partner schools!
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? My favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids are the connections you make when you are part of the program. This program has shown me how people of all ages from different backgrounds and environments can come together and leave a positive impact on this world. Many people think that this program is for the kids, but I learn more from the little buddies than I could ever teach them. The little buddies come to campus every week and show how much they have to offer the world. By centering on community service, culture, diversity, higher education, and careers we are shaping a future generation of leaders who will not be limited by stereotypes or statistics.
How did College Mentors for Kids prepare you for life after college? College Mentors has shaped every aspect of my life. As I begin my career in teaching, I feel like I already have so many wonderful strategies for building connections and making an impact on students and my fellow teachers. College Mentors helped me improve my time management skills, work-life balance, and how to be a strong leader. College Mentors for Kids is helping change this world. I’m honored that I get to work with our future CEOs, teachers, engineers, and leaders who will leave the world a better place than they found it. College Mentors for Kids continues to create a strong, nurturing, diverse, and accepting environment for the future. Personally, my experience in the program has helped me become a more understanding and accepting human being and I hope that more people can have the same experience I had.
Colleen Ferlotti, Virginia Tech
Why did you join College Mentors for Kids? I had heard about College Mentors because I had a friend at Purdue who was involved in the program. My freshman year was the inaugural year for Virginia Tech’s chapter so as soon as they were established, I looked into interviewing for our chapter. As someone in a highly technical field (engineering), it was important to me that I kept a diverse group of friends and organizations that allowed me to carry out passions outside of engineering, like providing opportunities for kids. Being constantly surrounded by people my own age, I also wanted a chance to learn from the most important members of our community – its kids. Working with College Mentors gave me the chance to give back to kids with different backgrounds than me just by being myself. I was so excited to learn about our chapter and be a part of its growth over my time at Virginia Tech.
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? College Mentors for Kids has so many incredible facets to it, but my absolute favorite is that the mission is to truly meet kids where they are. Each little buddy has different triumphs and struggles and our mentors/staff are constantly encouraged to treat the kids as the individuals they are. I loved watching mentors find what worked for their little buddies and helping them to remain an integral part of their buddy family. Even the shyest kids opened up at College Mentors, while the energetic bundles of energy learned when it was time to be calm. We created an environment where every child was encouraged to be themselves and to be confident in their differences through our tolerant, patient, and caring mentors.
How did College Mentors for Kids prepare you for life after college? Being a leader in College Mentors drastically changed my people skills. Within my job, I am challenged every day to consider a wide range of stakeholders. Having the experience of leading a day of entirely new staff, mentors, and little buddies gave me the foresight to understand everyone’s individual piece in the puzzle. I use this knowledge every day in my job to think about how my actions, leadership, and work are impacting others.
Colleen served as a mentor during the Virginia Tech chapter’s inaugural year of programming, eventually becoming Vice President of Programming. A Management Engineer for Duke University Health Systems in North Carolina, Colleen continues giving back to her community as an alumni volunteer for College Mentors for Kids and member of the Make-a-Wish Young Professionals group. She was also recognized as a finalist for College Mentors’ 2019 Inspiring Alumni Award.
Meredith Peloso, Virginia Tech
How did you see the program impact college student volunteers? A lot of our volunteers began in the education realm, but I’ve seen it expand to so many engineers, pre-med students, chemistry majors, and so much more. I’ve seen them gain perspective they never had, and have even talked about working non-profits or children into their post-graduate careers. I’ve seen mentors learn to forget about homework and the stress of college for two hours every week and just be present with the kids. It’s transformed their attitudes, and they were able to tell me so.
Why do you continue to support College Mentors for Kids? I continue to support this program because I believe it has the power to change so many lives. I was able to witness my chapter expand from one partner school to four. We are able to reach that many more kids and show them just how amazing college is, or how many different careers are possible for them.
What else would you like us to know about your College Mentors experience? I’m so grateful for every person I came into contact with and every child I was able to meet. The entire program changed my life for the better, and inspired my future career choices.
A volunteer during the Virginia Tech chapter’s inaugural year, Meredith served as a mentor, general manager, and vice president of programming. Inspired to pursue a career in education and service by her time in College Mentors, Meredith is now a Resident with Urban Teachers in Washington, D.C. Since graduation, Meredith has continued serving as an advocate for College Mentors. She is pictured here with little buddy Lilli.
Hannah Vormohr, University of Indianapolis
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? I loved that it was a break from my every day school routine and that every week, I felt like I was making a true difference in the lives of these kids. I looked forward to seeing my little buddy every week.
Why do you continue to support College Mentors for Kids? I was so moved by the enormous impact that I could see we were having on these children as well as their mentors. I believe the power of having a mentor is beyond measure, and I can’t even imagine how much more successful both the buddies and the mentors will be for having been a part of this program.
What else would you like us to know about your College Mentors experience? The opportunity to serve as a leader in this organization was an experience I didn’t even know I needed for my own personal and professional development. I am extremely grateful for all that I learned in this position and for the people who believed in my abilities to do the job!
Hannah was a mentor, vice president of fundraising, and president of her chapter and has continued advocating for College Mentors for Kids since her 2016 graduation. Now a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy, Hannah also serves as a leader for student organizations and mentors incoming students. Hannah is pictured here with her little buddy Jozi and Jozi’s sister.
Bridget Hannon Schuda, Butler University
What did you learn from being in College Mentors for Kids? I learned about my love of the nonprofit arena. Prior to starting my college career, I thought I wanted to go into the medical field. However, through my experience with College Mentors for Kids, I learned that I wanted to continue with development. I immediately went to get my Masters in Nonprofit Management and everyday am thankful that I signed up for College Mentors that first day at Butler.
Why do you continue to support College Mentors for Kids? I will say this till the day I die, College Mentors for Kids changed my life. I will continue to support College Mentors for Kids as long as I can and really hope that both sides of the buddy pairs can learn from it like I did.
Are you currently involved in mentoring or other volunteer work? If so, where? I have the privilege of running a mentoring program pairing community leaders in Chicago with children of fallen Chicago Police Officers. It has been an incredible experience and a great way to see my love of mentoring continue.
Pictured here with her little buddy Madi, Bridget served as a mentor and in several leadership roles, including president, during her time with the Butler University chapter of College Mentors for Kids. Now the Develop & Communications Office for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, Bridget recently served as a member of the alumni committee for College Mentors’ 2017 Twentieth-Anniversary unGALA.
Carol Everly Miller, Indiana University
How did College Mentors for Kids prepare you for life after college? “It taught me that community service needs to be a constant in my life, even as an adult. After graduation, I continued to mentor youth at a local preschool as I worked full-time in public relations. After five years, I realized I wanted to dedicate my career to working with kids, so I returned to school and obtained my teaching certification. I then taught high school for eight years, primarily teaching in the AVID program. AVID is nation-wide high school elective class that helps prepare students for college. I attribute my path to a career in teaching directly to my experience as a College Mentors volunteer.”
What do you hope to see College Mentors for Kids doing 20 years from now? “The program exists across the country and is a staple at hundreds of colleges and universities.”
What else would you like us to know about your College Mentors experience? “The College Mentors program changed my life. Twenty years ago as a mentor at IU-Bloomington, I never would have imagined the magnitude this program would have on my life, or how much the program would grow and flourish. I am so grateful and proud to have been a part of its beginnings.”
Carol served as a mentor during the first three years of College Mentors for Kids programming at Indiana University (1996-99). Now a stay-at-home mom of young children, Carol continues to volunteer in her community. She also remains in contact with her little buddy, Dylan, who is now married and has children of his own
Jennifer Swiderski, Illinois State University
Why did you join College Mentors for Kids? “My freshman year, I took a three week introduction course that allowed freshmen to understand the campus and allowed for an easier transition from high school to college. The instructor of this course advised all freshman to be involved in two organizations (one organization for fun and one for your major). I joined College Mentors for Kids because it sounded like an organization that would be fun to get involved in and I knew I could make a difference in the lives of others. Little did I know that joining this organization as a confused freshman would forever change my passions and lead me to the future that I am living.”
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? “The list of things that I love about College Mentors is endless. One of the most important things College Mentors for Kids does is it allows elementary students and college students to learn things they never knew existed. It introduces Little Buddies to things outside the world they know of and it allows college students to explore their campuses. It also allows college students to give back to their community while exposing them to different cultures and people in the community. College Mentors allows the Little Buddies to learn from their mentors and it allows mentors to learn from their Little Buddies. College Mentors for Kids prepares college students for their future by providing them with leadership opportunities and training that will help them be successful in their future. Because I attended these leadership trainings and professional development meetings through the years, I am able to bring my knowledge to my profession and relay that information to those around me.”
A two-year chapter President, Jenn also served as a mentor to little buddy Evening and a buddy family General Manager. Jenn now teaches 6th grade at Bloomington Junior High School, where she continues mentoring former little buddies now in her classroom. Featured as a College Mentors MVP & speaker at the 2017 unGALA, Jenn is a frequent College Mentors volunteer and advocate.
Joshua Reichart, University of Indianapolis
How did you see the program impact college student volunteers? “I believe it impacts college students by simply understanding the world around him or her, as well as placing responsibility on that individual that good can be done in the community. As a college student, you can make a massive impact on a child that can be carried through their years.”
How did College Mentors for Kids prepare you for life after college? “College Mentors helped to prepare me in ways that I had not realized until actually being placed in certain situations. The major skill set that comes to mind is how to build a trusting relationship with a sponsor. While having a little buddy, you make a commitment every week to be a part of their world. They trust that you will be there to not just hang out, but to become a role model. This applies to my job as I need to make sure I follow through with the promises that are agreed to in a contract. College Mentors also helped me to prepare for the business environment when I was the Vice President of the UIndy chapter. I had to not only learn what was going to be asked of me, but also had to learn how to delegate duties to those that I felt could handle the job. I needed to be able to trust those around me, but also keep the mission of the organization top of mind.”
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? “My favorite part about the organization was the joy I received from seeing a little buddy smile. That you were the reason for their happiness made all the reason for returning every week to be that Big Buddy!”
Josh volunteered as a mentor and vice president at the UIndy chapter from 2005-2008. Now Senior Manager, Partner Activation for the 500 Festival, Josh recently served as a member of the alumni committee for College Mentors for Kids’ 2017 Twentieth-Anniversary unGALA.
Katie Quillen, Indiana University
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? “I love the impact it has on both the little buddies and the college students.”
How did College Mentors for Kids prepare you for life after college? “It has shaped how I look at the world. My little buddy taught me about life outside what I was used to. As far as my career goes, leading the organization with 100 mentors and 25 staff members enabled me to interact with a variety of personalities and gave me significant experience managing a group of people.”
Why do you continue to support College Mentors for Kids? “The organization gave me such a sense of belonging and purpose while at IU. I want to ensure that other students have that opportunity to be connected to their campus and local community in a similar way.”
Katie volunteered at the IU chapter from 2008-2011, serving as chapter president during the 2010-11 program year. A national account manager at ConvergeOne, Katie continues volunteering for College Mentors, most recently as a member of the alumni committee for the 2017 Twentieth-Anniversary unGALA.
Michael Trojnar, Butler University
Why did you join College Mentors for Kids? “I joined College Mentors for Kids because I wanted to become more involved around campus and I knew I could have an impact on area youth. I stayed involved with College Mentors because of the profound impact I saw in the at-risk youth I worked with on a weekly basis. The time commitment was not overwhelming and the impact was astounding!”
How did College Mentors for Kids prepare you for life after college? “College Mentors for Kids prepared me for life after college by helping me with my time management skills and by providing me with the opportunity to gain some valuable leadership skills.”
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? “My favorite thing is seeing the dramatic change in the youth involved in the program from the beginning of the school year until the end of the school year. The children were always better behaved, more respectful of other, and were always truly excited to ‘go to college’!”
At the Butler chapter, Michael was a mentor to Brandon and Jaylan and a general manager. Michael works in Indianapolis and continues to volunteer with College Mentors for Kids as a member of College Mentors, EtC.
Michaela Martin, The Ohio State University
What is your favorite thing about College Mentors for Kids? “Seeing how excited the Little Buddies were each and every week getting off the bus on campus. Even if I was tired or stressed out, seeing their smiles instantly brought me joy and pushed me to make the activity as fun as possible.”
What did you learn from being in College Mentors for Kids? “I learned that we all need someone to look up to and support us. Seeing how much my Little Buddy grew from week to week inspired me to connect with someone I considered a mentor. Each week, my Little Buddy helped me take life less seriously; to laugh and share the silly joke they had to share or the funny story. Being fortunate enough to work at Ohio State, I still see some of the Little Buddies I knew when I was a student and I have learned that even the smallest gesture can have such a large impact.”
What else would you like us to know about your College Mentors for Kids experience? “College Mentors helped shape my college career. It gave me friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. College Mentors provided me with clarification of the direction I want in my life, post-college, to take.”
Michaela participated in College Mentors for Kids from 2011-2014, serving as a mentor for little buddies Kristin and Kaela, attendance and events coordinator, and 3rd grade general manager. Now, Michaela is the Wellness Coordinator at the OSU Office of Student Life Student Wellness Center, an OSU graduate student, and a mentor in her community.