Tag Archives: Student mentors

MiddCAM Remote Communication

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. 

MiddCAM Mentors video-calling there mentees, from left to right: Eleanor Pontikes ‘22.5, Jack Summersby, and 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!

It’s National Mentoring Month!

Middlebury College students are involved in a myriad of community-connected organizations and activities that promote service, scholarship, and citizenship–the three tenets of our Center for Community Engagement. Today, we are excited to share the recognition garnered by one particular Middlebury student who has been a dedicated mentor in the CCE-advised, student-led, 60 years-strong mentoring program Community Friends: Nathaniel Klein ’21. In honor of national mentoring month, the statewide organization Mentor Vermont selected Nathaniel and his mentee, Tanner, as one of their 2020 Vermont Ambassadors of Mentoring relationships! Here we will share highlights from their nomination. When you see Nathaniel and Tanner around campus, give them a cheer!

Nathaniel and Tanner during Halloween

Nathaniel has been a mentor in Community Friends for three years now. He has been matched with his mentee, Tanner, for the past two years. They continue to spread joy to each other and to others wherever they go on campus. They play sports together, build elaborate forts in the forest, go on scavenger hunts, and spend a relaxing time just sharing meals together. 

Nathaniel has been a mentor in Community Friends for three years now. He has been matched with his mentee, Tanner, for the past two years. They continue to spread joy to each other and to others wherever they go on campus. They play sports together, build elaborate forts in the forest, go on scavenger hunts, and spend a relaxing time just sharing meals together. 

Community Friends Coordintators, Kira Waldman ’20 and Jacob Freedman ‘21

Although Nathaniel is undoubtedly strong due to his position as captain of the rugby team and top shot-put thrower on the varsity track and field tea, his real strength lies on the inside. His ability to challenge existing narrative tropes about masculinity and his guidance on impressionable young men such as Tanner show his inner strength. Nathaniel and Tanner have developed a close mentoring relationship that allows them to freely express their emotions with and gratitude for each other. They show that expressing one’s emotions and talking through one’s challenges is an important part of growing up and life in general. 

In college, most of the work I do feels somewhat intangible because homework assignments have little meaning outside of school. Mentoring has given me a chance to enjoy myself while creating positive change in my community friends life; if you can change one life, you change the world.

Nathaniel Klein ‘21

Nathaniel and Tanner’s relationship not only reflects their respect and support for each other, it also captures their commitment to being engaged community members of Addison County. Thanks for your dedication to this meaningful relationship, Nathaniel, and thanks to Kira Waldman ’20 and Jacob Freedman ‘21, student coordinators of Community Friends, who composed and submitted Nathaniel’s nomination for the Mentor Vermont recognition.

Celebrate mentoring and read more about other inspiring relationships across Vermont at https://www.mentorvt.org/ambassadors-of-mentoring/

DREAM Mentors Support Middlebury Youth

DREAM college student mentors support Middlebury youth living in two low-income neighborhoods through guidance and friendship, creating a lasting impact.

DREAM (Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Mentoring) is a national non-profit organization based in Vermont that aims to “close the opportunity gap for children in low-income housing” through mentoring and steady involvement opportunities. DREAM supports and partners with the DREAM Middlebury College student organization that pairs college students with youth from affordable housing neighborhoods.

Middlebury College student mentors play with youth mentees at the
Virtue Athletic Field House and help get out the Friday wiggles!

DREAM offers a variety of programs that help enrich the lives of young children who otherwise would not have as much access to out-of-school learning opportunities compared to their higher-income counterparts. The work DREAM does with children is only partially based on college campuses– other programs are Camp DREAM–which is free for all eligible youth in DREAM–Teen and College Preparatory, and Summer Enrichment.

DREAM’s partnership with Middlebury College seeks to address the opportunity gap here in Addison County by partnering student mentors with DREAM youth. Student mentors meet with the children each Friday afternoon to play games and build relationships. DREAM with Middlebury College engages in both group mentoring (primarily) and one-on-one mentoring.

Casey Thomas, the DREAM Community Organizer and AmeriCorps VISTA Member this year, is supporting student mentors and mentees within the DREAM program. He acts as a liaison between the National DREAM Office and the Middlebury Program and facilitates fun activities for the amazing Middlebury youth they work with.

“There are moments when you work with youth, especially those in need, when you make a deep personal connection that can change their life and yours. The kids we work with, like all kids, need positive role models in their lives and the mentors can be that positive force. Our program not only serves our youth, but also the mentors who grow and feel the monumental impact of helping others.”

Casey Thomas, Middlebury DREAM Community Organizer and AmeriCorp VISTA Member

This program seeks to create a positive relationship between youth and adults built in trust and support. Janice Zhang ‘20.5, Outgoing DREAM Co-Chair, attests to the positive impact that DREAM has left her as well as on the children she’s worked with:

“The best part of being a DREAM Co-Chair was being able to see my hard work pay off every Friday and seeing how much the kids enjoy our company. I have learned that, at the end of the day, DREAM is all about having fun and that you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. This truly is an incredible experience.”

Janice Zhang ‘20.5, Outgoing DREAM Co-Chair

DREAM believes that the “opportunity gap is a root cause of why almost half of low-income children become low-income adults.” Guidance and support from loving adults is vital in helping youth become more than what their situation and bigger systems of inequality can limit them to be.

Interested in becoming a DREAM mentor? Please contact Casey Thomas at cthomas@dreamprogram.org.