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Chicago Scholars March Mentor of the Month

Shanthi Cambala, Mentor since 2021

It’s the start of March, and as of today, our Mentor application is only open for two more months! We’re continuing our Mentor of the month series to introduce you to some of our current incredible mentors, what called them to take on this responsibility, special stories of connection with their Scholar cohorts – and maybe to inspire you to become a mentor too!

Our March Mentor of the Month is Shanthi Cambala, who has been working with our Scholars since 2021. As a mentor, she’s seen firsthand that hardships and challenges can lead to some incredible adventures.

“‘Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.’ This was the quote I used to decorate my college graduation cap. At the time, it seemed like a fun homage to the Winnie-the-Pooh books in which it was originally written. Years later, these words hold a much stronger meaning that guide me as a Chicago Scholars Mentor.

“When I started college, I prided myself on having an “iron-clad” plan to declare a major as a freshman and graduate in three years without any distractions. Of course, I didn’t know as much about life as I thought I did at 18, and in the end, most of college did not go according to plan. As college went on, all I could see was a track record of missteps dotted with disappointment, and many of the goals I had set for myself did not pan out as I had hoped.”

Shanthi learned from her own experiences in college that the expectations we set for ourselves can make us feel as though we aren’t making progress towards our goals – but she knows firsthand that progress and success look different for everyone. She looks back on her experience with college to guide her scholars that may be going through the same things.

“If I could go back in time, I would I tell myself that there is no one “right way” to do college, and the world does not end if things don’t go as planned. I would tell myself to celebrate all the hard work that brought me to my success and appreciate the resilience that helped me overcome my failures. I would tell myself to embrace the unexpected and see that I was capable of so much more than what I imagined. What seemed like “mistakes” at the time were actually blessings that led me to some of the most wonderful adventures that allowed me to flourish both personally and professionally and helped me to strengthen my relationships with family and friends.”
“While I cannot go back in time, I hope that I can share this advice with my Scholars, and I hope that these words can help them enjoy their journey to becoming the leaders they were born to be. As a Mentor, I hope to show them that all the hardships are not problems they need to solve, but stepping stones to help them experience their college journey.”

Inspired by Shanthi’s story? Head here to learn more about applying to be a mentor! The mentor application is now open to support our new incoming class of Chicago Scholars – head here to check out the application and apply before the deadline on May 3rd!