Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Before: Parties, Fights and Music - After: College, Connections and Music

When mentees join our mentoring program they open themselves to endless possibilities. Sometimes we must be patient for them to recognize all that is available to them.  We have an expression: “we meet our youth where they are at, not where we think they should be".  When I met Griselda, she did not care about school and was behind on her credits. At first when I would see her she would update me on her current activities, which involved life in Northeast Los Angeles: parties, fights and music. During program sessions Griselda would spend her time texting her friends.  Her mentor Nova, would physically have to take her phone away in order for her to pay attention. 
We never give up on our youth.  We keep encouraging them and offering more opportunities until the defenses go down.  So finally, Griselda made the turn and began to show up for herself and all that is available to her at YMC.  She started getting more involved with YMC’s Urban Oasis Film Academy where she was able to collaborate with other mentees from different programs and write, direct and act in several of the films.  She also enrolled in a continuation program to catch up on her credits. When I would see her, she would update me on her school and how her grades were getting better.
Griselda also started coming to our Echo sessions.  Echo is the last Friday of every month where mentees and mentors from all programs are invited to come together for deep conversation about the things that hold us back in life.  This is where she met more mentees and mentors. One mentor that she met at Echo was Julie Pilat, Program Director/Music Director at KISS FM.  Griselda has a passion for music and now wants to get into the music industry.  When she spoke to a  teacher about her dream of working in the music industry she was told "look at where you're from; you're not going to make it". This made Griselda furious.  After finding out that Julie works in the industry, Griselda took the initiative to reach out to Julie and asked her if she can job shadow her.  Julie agreed, all Griselda needed was a ride to the studio. She was able to reach out to Christilily Chiv, who was a program coordinator at YMC.
On November 20, 2012 Griselda was on her first job shadow day at KISS FM studios in Burbank,  excited about what the day had in store for her.  It started with a tour of the studio and a meeting with Julie and her team. Julie then took Griselda to "A Place Called Home" youth center, where Griselda got to meet Nick Cannon who was there to speak with the youth. Griselda had a wonderful, fun, life- changing experience during her job shadow day.
Griselda is currently catching up on her grades and is planning to return to public school in January. Her conversations with me are no longer about parties and fights but are now about  going to college and getting internships in the music industry. She wants to send a special Thank You and shout out to her mentor Nova, Julie Pilat, KIIS/FM, Christilily and Youth Mentoring Connection.

submitted by Pedro Gomez

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