Mentorship

WAWS Evaluation Finding #7: The Mentee Becomes the Mentor

An image of three of our scholars, Zaphire, Domminiece, and Lexi, standing together at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony.

An image of three of our scholars, Zaphire, Domminiece, and Lexi, standing together at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony.

To continually provide meaningful and evaluation-driven programming, Words Alive commenced on a seven-month Dialogues in Action (DIA) project to analyze the impact of our Words Alive Westreich Scholarship (WAWS) program using a blended qualitative and quantitative evaluation model. Through this process, we had an opportunity to view our program through the lens of the scholarship recipients, past and present, and their mentors to determine opportunities to enhance our program delivery.

Throughout this process, we identified eight findings and then brainstormed ways we could update and improve the program based on these findings. Here is the seventh finding!

The Mentee Becomes the Mentor

We were surprised to find that through participating in the program and developing a relationship with their mentors, our scholars in turn became mentors for their peers.

When asked what they were passionate about, six out of nine of the scholars interviewed said “helping people.” Many of the scholars are pursuing careers such as social work, therapy, and child development with the ultimate goal of helping youth that have similar stories to their own.

In addition, many of the scholars spoke directly about becoming mentors for their peers. One scholar said:

“Now, I pass on the advice my mentors have given me to other people. I’m a mentor for some of the students at Lindsay because I’ve been in their shoes. It’s good to share your experience because they can see a role model and can relate to you. It gives them faith that things will work out… I just try to be a helping person and when someone’s experiencing a lot of emotions I try to be a calming presence like the calming presence my mentors have been for me. I’ve learned to ask for help and people still ask me for help.” – Scholar, age 22

It's clear from this example and others that being a mentor wasn’t necessarily an innate skill the scholars possessed, but something they learned through their relationship with their WAWS mentor. This statement from one of our scholars illustrates the range of skills these students learned from their mentors:

“I valued [my mentor’s] honesty. She would be upfront but in a professional way. I learned how to be that way with other people. ‘Let’s go grab coffee’ is not something I had done before but now do with other people.” – Scholar, age 24

Significance

One of our intended impacts for this program is that scholars form healthy and meaningful relationships with their peers and adults. Because of their upbringing, many of our scholars lack healthy adult relationships in their lives. To see the students develop relationship-building skills and then become a mentoring force in their community is significant because it proves that the scholars can learn the basic tenets of a healthy relationship and give and take in positive ways in those relationships.

Learn more about the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship here!