Last night was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long, long time. Why? Because I was with two of my main mentees — and it was great for me to introduce them to one another.
I’ve blogged recently about my mentorship with Sally, a wonderful 10-year old Chinese-American student, that I know through Asian-American LEAD (I’m on the board of directors and c0-chair of the Development Committee). I’m also mentoring her 14-year old brother, who is a freshman in high school. I met up with Sally and her mother at one of our favorite restaurants in Chinatown — then we proceeded to the Georgetown – S Florida game (I don’t want to talk about the game – tough loss).
Then, my other mentee, William, met us and we all sat together at the Hoyas game. I’ve been mentoring William for nearly 10 years — since his freshman year in high school. It was particularly ironic since the last time he had been to a Hoyas game was when he was a sophomore in high school (2001). Right before the game, I introduced him to the legendary long-time Georgetown coach, John Thompson, Jr. During the game I told Will about the huge, positive impact that Coach Thompson has had on the greater DC community as well as the African-American community throughout the US.
Coach Thompson is a huge advocate of education – and has done a remarkable job over the years with his many, many terrific players — Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Michael Jackson, etc. It was during that discussion that I asked Will about his interest in college. He replied to me he wanted to go to college but that he would need financial assistance. After the discussion, taking a cue from my mentors (Ted Leonsis and Mario Morino), I made a decision to contact William’s parents so I could offer to pay for Will’s college tuition.
William ended up graduating from high school a few years later and then enrolled at Bowie State University. I’ve paid for a good chunk of his tuition – and he has also paid for the tuition via scholarships, grants and loans. Well, as with many of us, including me, he didn’t graduate within the normal 4 to 5 year track. But, we had a great chat at the game last night — he’s only a few classes away from receiving his college degree. I promised to pay for his final classes, if needed — and he promised me he’d do his best to finish this year.
Circling back to Sally – I’ve blogged earlier about how I made a promise to Sally’s mother that I’d make sure her son and daughter both go to college. Sally wants to go go med or dental school and her brother wants to be an engineer. Her mother was concerned about how to pay for their education. I told her to erase those concerns — via my own contributions, loans, grants and scholarships, I will make sure both Sally and her brother go to college to pursue their degrees and their dreams.
That’s why it was particularly poignant last night for me to introduce two of my main mentees to one another. William is a great example of how these mentoring relationships can work out well over the long run. I had promised William’s parents back in 2001 that I’d do my best to help make sure their son gets his college degree — and, now he’s only a few classes away from his dream. And, Sally has a long way to go before college, but I’ll do my best to see that she’s able to pursue her dreams, too. And, by meeting William, she can see first-hand the importance of mentoring relationships over the long run.
I’m living my dream, too — helping to create a more level playing field for others — and, giving back as much as I can to the community. Peace.