CLEVELAND — WKYC Studios and College Now Greater Cleveland is presenting “Mentor Monday,” an all-day recruiting campaign on Monday, March 8. Throughout the day, WKYC’s newscasts will highlight the College Now mentoring program and offer viewers the opportunity to sign up to become a mentor.
This is the third year for this important outreach initiative and the goal is to recruit 100 mentors by the end of the day. Although the sign-up process and meeting criteria to become a mentor are simple and minimal, the impact mentors are making is huge.
On "Mentor Monday," you will hear from Olga Colon, a 20-year-old student studying criminal justice at Cuyahoga Community College. She has been paired with her mentor Cristin McCaskill since June 2019.
“Without my [mentor], I would not be in school right now,” says Olga, one of more than 1,000 students receiving scholarship dollars, support and resources through the Say Yes Cleveland initiative launched in 2019. About two-thirds of the recipients are first-generation college students.
When the pandemic hit, it presented a big challenge for Olga, who ran into issues with financial aid and enrollment. Olga made her mentor aware of the issue.
“My mentor and I have a connection – no matter the problem or situation I am in – she is always there to listen to me and give me advice,” Olga says.
After McCaskill heard about the problem, she jumped into action, reaching out to Olga’s Say Yes success coach Sherri Parks about the situation. Together, they gave Olga the advice and support she needed to push past the hurdles and successfully get registered for school.
It’s a story that sums up exactly why mentors are needed, especially by students who don’t have anyone in their family to show them the ropes of college.
“The [College Now] mentors connect with our scholars beyond the Tri-C campus, helping them develop the social capital that could change the trajectory of their lives,” says Parks, whose job is to assist students enrolled in the Say Yes Cleveland program navigate their way through the Tri-C experience.
“Once a scholar graduates and transfers from Tri-C, their mentor follows them to whichever 4-year school they choose to complete their education. They help our students finish the marathon and that support, that relationship, is invaluable.”
Editor's Note: The above video aired on January 28, 2020
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 via email 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. And tune into Mentor Monday on March 8 to hear the rest of Olga’s story along with many others.