Last year, Sam was a 5th grader at Harrison Elementary in Lexington, Kentucky. John was a junior studying to be a physician’s assistant at the University of Kentucky. Their paths were intertwined when John was paired with Sam as his mentor at the University of Kentucky chapter of College Mentors for Kids.
At first glance, Sam and John seem very different. There’s the obvious differences, like age, but there are deeper ones too. John grew up knowing college was an option for him. He had close family members who went to UK, so from a young age he wanted to be a Wildcat too. John explains that in his family “we never really thought about not going [to college].” For Sam, college is a new concept that he’s just starting to learn about through his time at College Mentors.
But when you keep digging, you realize Sam and John have a lot in common too. Sam shares that they both like sports and video games, and “he’s from the same birthplace as me: Chicago.” For both of them, it’s also their first year participating in College Mentors at UK. When asked what their favorite part is, they have the same answer. They both enjoy hanging out with each other and the other mentors and kids in the program. Sam says, “I think it’s pretty cool. I get to hang out with my mentor and have fun.” John adds, “We’re able to cut loose and have fun and still learn a couple of things.”
Making a Difference
At College Mentors for Kids, we often stress that we are a mentoring program, not a tutoring program. But Sam and John, a buddy pair from the University of Kentucky chapter, demonstrate how we still make a difference for kids educationally.
Sam shared, “[School’s] very hard when I don’t get my work done. I try real hard, but I don’t get my stuff right a lot of times.” However, being in College Mentors has given Sam confidence in his abilities. Sam continues, “At College Mentors…you have a mentor, and you get to talk about what you learn in school. I think I will do well [at school].”
Sam’s mentor, John, helps Sam by being supportive and sharing his own experiences. John says, “I feel like we’ve got a pretty good relationship. He’s able to tell me anything he needs to tell me. I make him a little more mature, one week at a time.” And Sam agrees.
While Sam can’t help John with his course work, he does teach him other things. With a smile John explains, “Every time we dance he’s able to show me up, so I learn from him.”