The Starfish Initiative asks mentors to update how their scholar is doing. Here is one such update that shares Starfish's impact and the power of a relationship of just one of its scholars. The scholar's name has been changed to protect their identity.
"Jasmine" has successfully and faithfully attended 10 UIndy College Prep Academy (CPA) sessions. She has ten sessions to go. In a recent session, she was mock interviewed by the dean of UIndy's Health Sciences school and received 20/20 points for her interview skills.
"Jasmine" has launched a website highlighting her achievements as part of the CPA program. (It is delightful.)
She was invested in the National Honor Society and participated in NHS events.
She participated in the Symphony Orchestra holiday and winter concerts; she attended the regional competition as a violin soloist. She hopes to move on to state competition.
"Jasmine" works two shifts per week at Starbucks, approximately 8 hours per week.
"Jasmine" earned A's and B's in her Fall semester classwork, with a C+ in Honors English. She excels in her medical assistant training program and may be selected from her class to go to a competition.
"Jasmine" and I text and talk frequently; she is a responsive, reliable, and delightful scholar.
We see updates on the living conditions at "Jasmine" 's apartment complex on the evening investigative news. Fires have plagued the complex; one occurred in the unit below "Jasmine" 's apartment. The family does not have access to laundry facilities. For months, they were without cooking appliances (no working oven or stovetop). Leaking pipes have disrupted access to bathing in apartment bathrooms. Mold, sewage, and garbage are present throughout the complex. "Jasmine" 's apartment is maintained as best it can be in these deplorable conditions.
"Jasmine" 's young brother may need surgery for a chronic health problem this spring.
"Jasmine" 's adult sisters are estranged from their mother. Family gatherings and holidays have been eliminated. "Jasmine" ’s sisters do arrange to see her when they can. No one owns a car.
Our Shared Goals:
Celebrations when we can – despite COVID, weather, and adversity. We went to Cake Bake for her birthday with my daughter and “Jasmine”’s friend and had a super time.
We had a super time attending the musical, The Color Purple, at Carmel Performing Arts Center (with all COVID safety precautions in place) on October 17, 2021.
We look forward to scheduling and attending college campus visits; to IU Bloomington and IU Kokomo. We’ve already done Butler and IUPUI, plus her prep classes at UIndy. We plan to work on FAFSA, SAT, college applications, getting a driver’s permit, and filing her taxes.
“Jasmine” is a delight. It’s my privilege to be her mentor. It is an emotional roller coaster facing the adversities with her because she remains positive, optimistic, persevering, and pleasant despite whatever comes her way. She inspires me.
Still, mentoring involves providing numerous supports:
● Every Saturday, I drive her to and from UIndy to attend CPA, a 140-mile round trip. That is my commitment to her for 20 weeks. (She gallantly tried public transportation and was abandoned at the Red Line when staff shortages left no drivers. She was given a ride home by an IndyGo male supervisor who transported her in his vehicle to take her to her apartment since she had no one to get her.)
● Because there was no way for “Jasmine”’s family to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, I took her early that morning to pick up a prepared meal at Whole Foods. Her mom covered the costs of the meal for her family but had no way to pick up the order.
● I often either drive “Jasmine” to work or pick her up on cold days. Otherwise, she has to walk half a mile in the dark through the most dilapidated area of the apartment complex, where fires and shootings have occurred.
● I send food, school supplies, gift cards, and Door Dash to supplement the family’s budget in terms of other supports. I’m reluctant to mention my mentoring activities; I have no complaints or self-promotion.
“Jasmine” deserves and seeks and immerses herself in every opportunity available. She is amazing. And it is my privilege and joy to support her as she pursues her goals with joy and hope. But it breaks my heart to see the adversity she faces. And I want Starfish to know that mentors have the chance to help scholars pursue their dreams.