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Mentoring During COVID-19: How one mentor is helping her mentee stay on course during the pandemic

HerMaya Onunwor, a mentor with College Now has been helping her mentee Jor’Dan Thompson, a student at Cleveland State University adjust to online learning.

CLEVELAND — HerMaya Onunwor had a mentor when she pursued her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work.

So when she heard that College Now Greater Cleveland was recruiting mentors to be paired with college-bound Cleveland students, “This was without question something that I definitely wanted to do,” she says.

RELATED: Mentor Monday 2021: How you can help make a difference

Onunwor works for Say Yes to Education as a Family Support Specialist at John Adams College and Career Academy. She has been mentoring Say Yes scholarship student, Jor’Dan Thompson since 2020. Thompson is a junior at Cleveland State University, majoring in Psychology, with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist. The two found common ground around social work and providing mental health assistance.

“HerMaya was always there for me,” says Jor’Dan Thompson.

Thompson is grateful to have that support last year when she was on campus, and this year while learning from home.  “When I had situations on campus, also with transitioning back to home, we always remain positive about things. And HerMaya was always there to level me out.”

RELATED: Mentor Monday returns for third year to showcase how mentors can make a difference in the lives of students

Thompson prefers the personal attention she receives during in-person classes, instead of over Zoom. Luckily, her math class is back on campus. “I struggle the most with math that is something I have to do in person.” And her mentor has been there through it all, to guide her through all her struggles.

“I don’t have the experience of going to school during a pandemic. So, little does Jor’Dan know, I’ve learned from her through this. So, I commend her strength and resilience during this time,” says Onunwor.

It is surprising to learn that Jor’Dan and HerMaya have never met in person. Their mentorship began during the pandemic, relying on texts and Facetime to cement a long-lasting relationship.

“I can’t wait until this is all over so we can eventually meet in person,” remarked Onunwor.

Thompson offered this advice to other college students, “Find a mentor that fits you, because that mentor will be your best friend throughout college.”

And on Monday, March 8 WKYC Studios will present Mentor Monday, an all-day recruiting campaign to help recruit 100 mentors for the College Now Greater Cleveland mentoring program.

The requirements to become a mentor are:

  • Fill out an application
  • Complete a short phone interview
  • Attend a brief orientation
  • Pass a background check
  • Hold a college degree
  • Commit to communicating with your mentee twice per month through email and meet three times per year

To apply to become a mentor click here. The deadline is April 1. And watch Mentor Monday on WKYC on March 8 to learn about the College Now mentorship program.

RELATED: Engage Cleveland partners with College Now and WKYC Studios to recruit mentors on Mentor Monday