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.