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Meet Our 2024 Chicago Scholars Mentors of the Year!

Meet Our Year One and Year Mentors of the Year

Each year, our Mentors work to build incredible and lasting relationships with the Scholars in their cohorts. They give our Scholars a steady role model to rely on as they prepare for and head off to college. All of our Mentors go above and beyond with their Scholars – but we’re incredibly proud to honor our chosen 2024 Mentors of the Year: Schafaris Turner for Year One Mentor, and Mayra Miranda for Year Two Mentor – both of whom are Chicago Scholars Alumni.

We spoke with each of them about what it means to be recognized for these awards, and how it drives them forward as they continue their journeys as a mentor with us. Read on for their responses!

Meet Schafaris Turner, Winner of Year One Mentor of the Year

Schafaris Turner, Year One Mentor of the Year

What does it mean to you to receive this award? 

Honestly, I’m still in shock! It means so much that my Scholars thought so highly to nominate me. Many times, I wonder if I’m doing enough, if I’m being supportive enough, or even available enough. This award serves as recognition of the work I have been doing, but also validation that I’m giving my all to my Scholars.

What has been the best part of being a CS Mentor? 

The best part about being a CS Mentor is working with so many amazing students. We truly get to work with the brightest young minds in Chicago. Each year, I learn something new, not only about them, but also about myself. My favorite part of the year is when the Scholars announce which college they are going to. It’s beautiful to see all of their hard work and determination finally come to fruition.

Why should others get involved with Chicago Scholars’ work? 

As a CS alum myself, it warms my heart to know that this organization has not strayed away from their mission after all these years. By getting involved with Chicago Scholars, you’ll have the opportunity to be a resource to the next generation of leaders. You will also have the opportunity to network with other amazing professionals that have chosen to volunteer as well.

What is something you learned from our Scholars or from being a CS Mentor? 

One thing I’ve learned from my Scholars is to be my true authentic self and to not be ashamed of who I am. Many times, we feel that we need to present a different persona, especially in the workplace. We try to assimilate to our surroundings and partially as POC, we try not to “play into” stereotypes/preconceived notions. Working with our Scholars who are part of Gen Z, they show up as their authentic selves every day and don’t have any shame about it. They are who they are and are proud of it. They can also tell when someone is putting on a fake persona. I honestly admire this about them and I have learned that in order to connect with them, I need to be my authentic self as well.

Meet Mayra Miranda, Winner of Year Two Mentor of the Year

Mayra Miranda, Year Two Mentor of the Year

What does it mean to you to receive this award?

I am extremely grateful to receive the Mentor of the Year award. Receiving this award reflects my commitment to supporting Scholars who are leaders doing incredible things. To me, this award represents my Scholars knowing that I am available to support, uplift, advocate, and celebrate wins with them. Mentorship has played a critical role in my own academic and professional journey. As I reflect on the numerous ways that mentors have impacted my life, being nominated by my Scholars for this award is an honor. As a CS Alum, giving back to the organization that was instrumental during my college experience, and receiving this award is a full circle moment. I am so proud to be part of the Chicago Scholars community, a community filled with exceptional leaders that are committed to supporting and uplifting Scholars.


What has been the best part of being a CS Mentor? 

The best part of being a CS mentor is the conversations and interactions with my Scholars. From helping scholars navigate the college application process, to attending Onsite, to supporting them as they transition to college, to monthly check-ins, every single interaction is one that I am grateful for. I am always happy when I get a text from a scholar wanting to connect. Those moments of listening, providing support, and ensuring that they know I am available are important to me. Apart from the interactions, the collaboration that happens as a mentor with the CS staff is truly amazing.

Why should others get involved with Chicago Scholars’ work? 

Volunteering as a mentor is a rewarding experience. I am always inspired by my Scholars and the commitment from each person on the CS team to support Scholar’s leadership and success. The impact of Chicago Scholars is one that I know first-hand. As an alum of the program, I remember the support I received to help me navigate the college application process. I will never forget my own Onsite experience. I encourage anyone that is interested in supporting Scholars to navigate the college application process or is interested in higher education to volunteer. Chicago Scholars is wonderful at providing tools, resources, trust, and support to mentors. Volunteering as a mentor has been a transformational experience.

What is something you learned from our Scholars or from being a CS Mentor? 

Every time I speak with my scholars, I am left feeling encouraged and empowered. Navigating the first year of college is not easy, yet I am struck by the work ethic and involvement of CS scholars on campus while navigating a rigorous academic schedule. Scholars continue to remind me of the importance of showing up as my authentic self and the importance of self-care. As a CS mentor, I have learned so much about myself throughout the years. I have learned that sometimes being available to listen is enough.

Inspired by Mayra and Schafaris’ stories about their mentoring experience? Apply to be a Chicago Scholars Mentor before the application closes on May 3rd!

Not sure about applying yet? Get your mentorship questions answered at our upcoming Mentor Open House on May 1st!