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Chicago Scholars April Mentor of the Month

Michael L Smith, Mentor since 2018

As of today, there’s just one more month to apply to become a Chicago Scholars Mentor!

In celebration, we’ve got just two more Mentor highlights as part of our Mentor of the month series, where we introduce you to some of our current incredible mentors, give you a special look at what called them to take on this responsibility, tell stories of connection with their Scholar cohorts – and maybe inspire you to become a mentor too!

Our April Mentor of the Month is Michael L Smith, who has been working with our Scholars since 2018. He grew up watching his own father work as a mentor to youth in the Woodlawn neighborhood, inspiring Michael to follow in his footsteps.

“My dad gave his time to help influence and impact the lives of young people in the Woodlawn Neighborhood where I grew up. As a small boy, under the age of 10, I constantly witnessed young men ringing our doorbell. I would run to see who it was, and each time, they would ask for Mr. Louis – my dad. He would go out to talk with them, sometimes even invited the young folks in and talk with them about ways to be a better person. What I remember most about my father’s work as a mentor was how much of his own time and attention he gave to each person that came to our door. I reflected on this quite a bit later on in my own life. Mentorship was not a common term in the 1960’s and 70’s, but it was commonplace in my house.”

“Now, as a mentor myself, I have direct involvement in guiding the successful journeys and outcomes of students eager to work towards pursuing higher education at the University and College level. I’ve had so many memorable experiences with Scholars over the years, but one that really stands out for me was at Onsite of this past year, when I was able to introduce the Scholars in my cohort to Chicago’s Mayor, Brandon Johnson, whom I’ve known well for many years. To see how excited they were, and how much drive it gave them in their college interviews that day, it brought me so much joy.”

Over his six years as a Chicago Scholars Mentor, Michael has guided dozens of Scholars into college, and onto fulfilling careers. As he continues his mentoring experience, he looks forward to meeting the CS class of 2029, and helping his students along to bigger and brighter things.

“My goal as a mentor for the coming year is to support my Scholar Cohort with guidance in getting scholarships, participating in fulfilling community Service and volunteer opportunities, and building professional relationships with career professionals, including Alderman and business professionals from across the city. I want to see my Scholars achieve whatever they set their minds to, and to be the helping hand for them along the way, just like my dad was for so many kids from my neighborhood.”

Inspired by Michael’s story? Head here to learn more about applying to be a mentor! The mentor application is 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!