Girls Inc. programming empowers girls to be leaders today and in their futures by helping them master foundational academic skills, practice healthy behaviors, and build positive relationships with peers and adults.
Girls Inc. of Lynn’s college mentoring program supports all of this and then some. At the start of their junior year of high school, girls are provided assistance by teen mentor volunteers. These mentors focus on a small-group method to explore the girls’ long-term goals and their hopes for getting the education they need to meet them. After a primer on the basics of the college process, the students review the Common Application and are instructed on how to research schools based on their interests and career objectives. They also discuss financial aid and scholarships that they may be eligible to apply for in their senior year, essay ideas, standardized tests, and other topics so they are ready to tackle the busy calendar that awaits.
Come September, each senior is paired with one mentor with whom she will work closely throughout the year. The dedicated volunteers attend training sessions and offer valuable insight from their life and career experiences to guide the girls from application to matriculation. Working one on one and employing search tools to find colleges and universities that are “a good fit,” the teams cover the gamut, including effective essay writing, application deadlines, financial aid and more. It is a rewarding process, evidenced by the many mentors who maintain relationships with their graduates and commit to the program again each year.
One such volunteer is Kathy Cormier, a Swampscott resident whose decades of working with youth landed her at our 50 High Street headquarters over five years ago and who shares that her work with Girls Inc. has been and continues to be “the most rewarding volunteerism of my life.”
Kathy attended two formal training programs and did extensive research on her own on the ever-changing college admissions landscape – and has never looked back. She has parlayed her professional experience and personal access to opportunities to her mentees’ advantage. Of course, it comes as no surprise that going above and beyond as a practice would lead to a special camaraderie, and Kathy appreciates the special moments she and the girls have shared through the process. She maintains close relationships with her past mentees by taking them to interviews and appointments or just being there when they need support of any kind.
Kathy was delighted when she learned she would be paired this year with Victory Aziegbe, a senior who attends Lynn English High School. Victory joined Girls Inc. as a freshman in 2018 after coming to the U.S. from Nigeria. In the years since, she has balanced her schoolwork with being the after-school caregiver for her three siblings, as both of her parents work full-time positions in healthcare. She has sought homework support as her schedule allows and embraced all programs at Girls Inc., including being a peer leader and a teen health ambassador to our middle school members. At her high school, not only has Victory taken on a heavy honors course load, but she is also part of an inclusivity panel and is a mentor and friend to special needs teens.
Understanding of her mentee’s passionate, caring nature and her ambition to work in the medical industry, Kathy has worked diligently with Victory through the college process in the hopes of her achieving that goal. They met weekly in the fall to fine-tune her essays and discuss possible scholarships and financial aid. After years of shepherding girls through FAFSA forms and other applications for aid, Kathy has become well educated. “It’s a lot of work to find the various opportunities,” she says, “but I do not take no for an answer.”
Victory applied to several nursing programs to which she was accepted. The biggest decision now is where to go. She is excited to live on campus and attend classes and to ultimately work in a major Boston hospital. No doubt her relationship with her mentor will continue to develop through those life-changing years.
Girls Inc.’s highly successful mentoring program and the girls who benefit from it are the centerpiece of our 34th Annual Celebration Luncheon, Thursday, April 7th at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Danvers. Among other highlights, the event honors three Girl Heroes, scholarship-winning seniors whose very personal stories underscore how our strong, smart, and bold mission makes a lasting difference in the lives we serve. Information is available at https://girlsinclynn.org