MENTOR, Ohio — Among the slices, sandwiches, and baked goods at Maxim’s Pizza in Mentor, two friends take a moment to catch up. A conversation touching on work, busted March Madness brackets and more.
This friendship began five years ago when Attila Nagy, a graduate of Lakewood High School, received a scholarship from College Now and was paired with a mentor.
“I was lucky enough to meet Todd along the way,” said Attila Nagy, now an accountant at Lincoln Electric. “Right away that he was there to support me. And if there was anything I ever needed, he was there for me.”
"Todd" is Todd Berardinelli, a mentor eager to give back because of the support he got in college and the beginning of his career.
“You could tell right away that he (Nagy) was a hard worker and I saw a lot of myself in him,” said Todd Berardinelli, vice president of risk management at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Berardinelli remembers advising first generation college student Negy not to take on too much between classes, soccer and other commitments.
“So I was trying to share with him the importance of keep your eye on the prize relative to starting with school and getting good grades,” recalls Berardinelli.
“He's there to give back and volunteer, which I'm so thankful for,” remarked Nagy. “And why not use him as a resource, as an outlet to just learn and grow.”
And he did. From seeking guidance when beginning his career, to now an accountant at Lincoln Electric. It's a friendship that has lasted beyond college.
“Would I have thought that this relationship would have grown to what it is? Probably not. But I'm very thankful and appreciative that it is what it is now,” said Nagy.
“He's always got a smile on his face. He's always got a positive outlook on things, and I think those things are refreshing when you connect with someone like that,” said Berardinelli.
Both encourage others to think about mentoring through the College Now program. Berardinelli has already signed up to mentor another student this fall and Nagy has done the same, excited to be that positive influence for a college student.
“Since he's made that effect on me, he's going to make an effect on all the people that I'm going to mentor,” said Nagy.
“I've learned a ton from Attila, watching how he operates, his focus, and his drive and his energy,” said Berardinelli.
Todd Berardinelli was so impressed with the mentor program, he brought it to his workplace. Now, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has around 50 active mentors giving back to college students.
The Mentor Mondays campaign began in 2019. Over the years, more than 500 people have signed up to be mentors as a result of the campaign.
Volunteers interested in mentoring must hold a college degree and pass a background check. Mentors are also required to check in with their mentees twice per month on an online platform system and meet three times per year. To learn more or to register to become a mentor, click here. The deadline to apply is April 1.