During the past few months, many have recognized and lamented the sadness of seniors as they’ve missed out on milestones including their graduation ceremonies, their final seasons of sports, their senior proms, their senior week traditions, and their final few months with friends before heading in different life directions.
Perhaps fewer have thought about COVID-19’s effects on high school juniors. Physical distancing has significantly complicated the college applications process, adding stress and uncertainty to their lives during a time that, for many, is already fraught with both. Understanding this, Middlebury College Access (MiddCAM) mentors have prioritized continued support for their mentees this spring, despite the difficulties of remote communication. Each mentor-mentee pair’s communication has looked a little different: some text, some email, some video chat, and some do a combination of the three. No matter what form they’ve taken, the relationships have provided crucial support to the high school students as they’ve navigated canceled tests and canceled college visits.
The mentees are not the only ones benefiting from the relationships, of course. Mentors are also finding comfort in their remote connections with their mentees
. Eleanor Pontikes ‘22.5, a MiddCAM mentor, reflects: “my weekly FaceTimes with my mentee Anna have not only been grounding, but also fill me with hope for the future.” Even with time apart, having a set time every week to meet has sustained their relationships with their mentees: “[it] has been something that both of us look forward to each week and helps keep us connected to other people during these difficult times,” writes MiddCAM mentor Abbey Tinsley ‘23.
Despite the difficulties and challenges that remote activities entail, the mentors are positive about the future thanks to modern technology. As MiddCAM mentor Jake Summersby states: “While posing its own unique and new challenges, remote activities including work and school have challenged our abilities to adapt to new circumstances. Mentorship is no different, and while nevertheless a different experience, modern technology brings us closer together.”
Jack credits websites like Naviance and Khan Academy, which “help bring the college process online, while video conferencing apps supplement the lack of physical proximity.” Despite the unknowns, Jack says, he and his mentee “are still confident in a bright future ahead.” Indeed, not only are the mentors confident about the future due to technology, they also credit their mentees for having a positive and dedicated mindset: “Anna, like the rest of the MiddCAM mentees, is so hardworking, dedicated, and compassionate—it has been such an amazing program to be a part of,” states Eleanor.
Thank you to both mentors and mentees for continuing to inspire each other during these very difficult times!