Read more about Lee’s experience with his CS mentors here.
I believe the students and mentors are the two factors that make CS the special organization it is, although the de facto focus is on the students and our achievements as Scholars both inside and outside of school. That’s why I felt that the mentors should be highlighted first at the end of this academic year.
In my first Launch workshop late 2021, I met my mentor Shanthi Cambala. After a few icebreaker games, I felt far more relaxed and optimistic about how the next few sessions would go. Fast-forward to Spring 2023, and Shanthi is one of my biggest supporters in my academic and creative pursuits.
“After scanning through multiple volunteer sites, I came across the opportunity to volunteer with CS Writing Labs, and given my love of writing, and I was immediately interested!” Shanthi said. “One student reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to meet with him personally to assist with his creative writing portfolio. That particular student got into his top choice schools. It was after that moment that I knew that I would enjoy being a mentor, and the rest is history!”
“The first year took a LOT of planning, because there were so many moving pieces, especially with the unpredictability of the pandemic at the time. The primary questions that we as mentors asked was, “How do we build relationships virtually and keep everyone engaged?” The year (Year 2) was vastly different.” Shanthi said that Year 2’s less virtual structure gave her the challenge of aligning her own time with that of her five Year 2 Scholars. Once that was clear, her main priority was centered around Scholar wellness. “I really wanted to focus on listening and meeting Scholars where they were at.” To Shanthi, the mentor-Scholar relationship is “rooted in being open with one another…We want to get to know you, and most importantly, we want to be able to help you in your journey!… Mentors are here to guide you through the taught times, and we appreciate the trust that you put in us through such a foundational stop in your careers.”
For me, Shanthi is the perfect example of what makes CS special. When she invests her time towards her Scholars, it is not for the sake of just getting the job done. She wants to get eye level with us. After her monthly check-ins, she will always tell us anytime to reach out to her, no matter the reason. She has a true impact on my life, so I asked her how has Chicago Scholars impacted her life?
“Chicago Scholars has, first and foremost, helped me to feel connected and engaged with the Chicago community.” Shanthi says, “It has been exciting for me to get to know my Scholars and fellow Mentors, and I love hearing everyone’s stories!”
The deadline to apply to be a mentor for the Class of 2028 has been extended to May 17, 2023! Learn more here.