blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: The Power of Mentorship

January 22, 2015

The Power of Mentorship

Me with some of my high school students I work with in one of many mentoring programs at Harvard Medical School. 

How many of you follow Humans of New York? It is one of my favorite pages for making the world feel a little less distant, for reminding me to always have empathy, and a constant reinforcement that you truly just never know what a person has been/is going through!

Today something really touching happened there - Brandon started a fund to send a predominantly black and hispanic classroom from one of the worst neighborhoods in the city to Harvard. A trip intended to expand their horizons beyond the neighborhood they know and the "occupations" they observe. Amazing! Of course there are those who are more negative, one person even commented, "That's just a waste of time, don't want to be rude but tbh these kids will never make it to any ivy league, let alone universities." 

People like this obviously don't matter, because within an hour of posting this Brandon had already raised an astonishing $130,000 for the cause. But I still want to address the naysayers (and inspire some of you, as many have asked for more of my "story") and let you know what mentoring can actually accomplish. 

I owe everything to mentoring. 

I grew up in a neighborhood full of gang bangers and drug dealers. My brother and I rode our bicycles around our tiny driveway in circles because our parents wouldn't let us ride on our street. I lost cousins to gang violence and thought that if I reached the age 18 still alive, not in jail, and without a baby, well that would be a cause for celebration. Because where we came from, not many people did. 

My parents were incredibly hard workers, and instilled in me an appreciation for hard work. I spent most of my time growing up with my grandparents, because my parents were always working. (Something I'm incredibly thankful for today - my grandparents couldn't speak any English, so living with them I became fluent in Spanish). But right around the time of adolescence, kids feel they have to prove themselves, and I wasn't immune to that. In school we'd get into fights or people would get jumped because of a look, or because a girl had long hair, or was pretty, or anything really. You didn't want to be the only one without someone having your back, so by freshman year of high school I had joined a gang. I was hanging out after school getting into trouble and nearly failing all of my classes. Except for biology. 

My biology teacher liked to show us things on the microscope, and as a visual learner, those things just sort of stuck with me even if I didn't do the homework. I aced a practical exam that many of the students had trouble with. My biology teacher pulled me aside and spoke with me regularly. "Laura, what are you doing? You're smart, you can make something of yourself! You could be a doctor if you wanted! None of these kids you're hanging with now care about your future or theirs - all they see is the right now." 

And he was right. In neighborhoods like ours, it's hard to think about the future, or to plan very far in advance and wait for delayed gratification. But his words stuck with me and I listened to him - I left those friends behind and immersed myself in school, especially science. I ended up with a full-tuition scholarship to Smith College - they offer one scholarship to a young woman from Springfield Public Schools, and through some act of fate that young woman was me. At Smith, I was recruited into a mentoring program called AEMES Scholars - Achieving Excellence in Math, Engineering, and Sciences. Through this program I got matched with a mentor and was paid to work in their lab doing research - research that I did all four years of college, that allowed me to travel to national meetings and present my work and eventually write and publish a first-author paper. My mentor believed in me and trusted me like no one else did. He networked for me, wrote letters of recommendation for me, stuck his neck out for me. And through the work he allowed me to do and the confidence I gained through that, I added more and more to my CV and eventually wound up here at Harvard Medical School.

Here at Harvard I have found more mentors. Women who have the careers I envision myself having, boss ladies who still take time during their breaks to call and check in on their kids, old men who've seen it all and then some. All of these mentors have molded me into the person I am today. 

I still see the news from back home now and then and hear about my old crew from my early high school days. They're living in the same projects and doing a whole lot of nothing; some of them are dead, many of them in prison, and some just fell off the map. And sometimes I feel guilty for "making it." Guilty for the luck I had in having a mentor, guilty because that so easily could have been me. I know how powerful a mentor can be, and because of that, I now serve as a mentor. It's my duty to try and bring up as many kids as I can with me. Because all they need to see is that the world is a bigger place than their hood, that people who look like them and came from places like them made lives for themselves, and most of all that people believe in them. If you're reading this and wondering if you can make it, know that you can, and I believe in you.

Anyway - man what is that, like 3 deep posts in a row!?! 
I promise tomorrow I'll post a regular old outfit post! ;)

22 comments:

  1. I adore your inspiration posts because it's always nice to hear about how someone "made it" to where they are now. I know we are all still growing and that we really don't ever totally "make it" but it is nice to see how bloggers' backgrounds led them to where they are today. Thank you for sharing :)

    Julia
    this sojourner

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. ⚔️SECURITY is a constant concern in today’s world, when technology can easily work with or against our safety. Everyone carries a smartphone these days, with a growing 2.32 billion users who access private information on their device daily.
      The question is, who else is accessing that private information?
      In 2016, hackers targeted nearly a million Android phones–and that statistic isn’t even considering phones with other operating systems such as Apple or Windows.
      Luckily, there are ways to tell whether your smartphone has been hacked. If any activity on your phone seems suspicious, run a few quick checks to make sure that your phone’s security is on the up-and-up. Let’s start from the beginning:o

      ✅✅Know the Signs and Signals
      Make yourself aware of common signs that your phone is being monitored. Knowing all these codes doesn’t help if you don’t know what abnormal activity looks like, and therefore don’t know when or how to use them. Warning signs include:
      * Unknown apps: Malicious monitoring apps need to be directly installed on your device, so it’s a red flag if you see an app with a vague name that you don’t recognize.
      * Rapid battery loss: Malware constantly running in the background takes a toll on your phone’s resources, which can also lead to slow performance and unusual overheating.
      * Strange text messages: Are friends receiving SMS or social media messages that you didn’t send?
      * Increased data or SMS use: When your data and SMS use for the month exceeds your normal use significantly, it can mean that you’re not the only one controlling device use.
      * Pop-ups despite having an adblocker. Strange pop-ups may appear attempting to phish information if malware is affecting your phone.
      * Blocked e-mails: Are you sending e-mails that never reach their destination? This mysterious phenomena indicates that your e-mail configuration has been moved to an unauthorized server.
      * Data breaches: If you’ve had private information like passwords or private messages leaked, that’s a good sign that there’s a problem elsewhere. 
      This isn’t an exhaustive list of potential signs and signals that you’re being hacked, but it should give you a good idea so you can make common-sense decisions about what’s normal and what isn’t. Next: what action should you take if you notice a red flag?  

      ✅✅What if You Have Been Hacked?

      If you’ve been hacked, there are a few steps you can take to re-secure your information and protect yourself.
      First, if the redirection code indicates that calls are being redirected, dial ##002#, which automatically undoes all redirection commands.
      Second, run a full system restore on your phone, wiping it completely. But first, encrypt your data so it’s fully protected. On most phones, these settings are under Settings > Security. It may take a few hours, so make sure your phone is plugged in. It can lead to permanent damage if the battery drains to nothing while encrypting and wiping your phone.
      Third, take precautions to keep your smartphone safe from future hacks. Install a reputable antivirus app and run scans on a regular basis to detect malware and suspicious apps before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your personal information.

      Let me Quickly Brief You About My Team:

      🏅COMPOSITE HACKS is a vibrant squad of dedicated online hackers maintaining the highest standards and unparalleled professionalism in every aspect.

      ✅✅FOR ALL KINDS OF PROFESSIONAL HACKING SERVICES RANGING FFROM FROM:
      ✅Website hacking 💻,✅Facebook and social media hacking📲, ✅Database hacking, Email hacking⌨️, ✅Phone and Gadget Hacking📲💻,✅Clearing Of Criminal Records❌ ✅Location Tracking and many More✅

      Feel Free To Contact Us Via
      📲compositehacks@gmail.com📲

      Delete
  2. oh my! you've just inspired me with this post! I've been procrastinating for months on becoming a mentor. i reached out to an organization months ago and never followed through but now is the time. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You speak the truth darling. Absolute truth. I always love to hear your story, and it's so inspiring for us to reach out and help other or find a mentor for ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much for this post. I can't even begin to describe just how much I needed to read something like this.

    And, in general, thank you for your helpful and inspirational posts. It's wonderful that you're using your blog as a platform to help others. If your posts are any indication of the type of mentor you are, I would've loved to have you as my mentor now.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is beyond inspirational. All props to you, go girl!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for sharing your story!! You have no idea how inspirational you are.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great story ! So empowering ! You're such an inspiration

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this post, you're the kind of person people can look up too. Especially young women of color. It's amazing what you're doing and that you want to help others see their potential as well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, thanks for sharing! I loved this story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Just saw your profile pic on my pinterest. You are 1 of my Inspiration, both in career and life. Continue to be the great person you are

    ReplyDelete
  11. That was a post I definitely needed to read. I have all these ideas on things I want to do and I have more than one passion but some people make it seem as if I can't do both but I believe I can and because of that I will. You inspire me and so many others which is why we reach to out to you. Thanks for being there!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've been following you for YEARS and I've always assumed you were just this super perfect/pretty/lucky/smart girl who just floated into Harvard and, like a Disney Princess, was won over by an educated (and fine!) man (now husband) and had a beautiful (and happy!) child and the world just never opposed anything you ever wanted or did. While some parts of that may be true, I know the pictures you share are worth a thousand words but THESE WORDS you just wrote could never be captured by such. That story had to be TOLD and I'm glad you shared it because I now understand the spirit behind these beautiful pics. That spirit belongs to a warrior who was handed nothing, but is now beginning to reap the benefits of many years of relentless committed work for a goal of a purposeful life. Congratulations, Laura. And thank you for the perspective shift!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Laura, thanks a bunch for being so transparent with the most intimate moments in your life. It touches young girls like me and reminds me that there is always a way. I can't thank you enough for inspiring me with your hardwork and determination.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can definitely relate with the bullying. I was bullied in middle school and high school for wearing a weave! Yes, a weave! I wore one because I have a common disorder called trichotillomania. So, like you said, people are fighting a battle that most can't see. So the girls who were so jealous of me didn't know how much I wish I had long, flowing, real hair as much as they did. Picked me on me so much for it that I am still trying to break down my defensive walls to this day. Luckily, my mom moved from Chicago so it could've been a lot worse (With the gang violence and all), but I am so glad that God brought that teacher in your life. You're such a beautiful person, and I hope to one day be as great!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You have the life I always envisioned myself to have... :( but you're inspiring me to do well in school and hopefully enter a good medical school. thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Laura, I love love love your blog.
    I am currently studying in med school and I really want to find a mentor, but I honestly don't know how! Do you have any tips? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Kudos!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Your blogs and every other content are thus interesting and helpful it makes me return back again. www.progressive finance

    ReplyDelete
  19. Start creating money without delay... Get longer together with your family by doing jobs that solely need for you to own a laptop and a web access and y ou'll have that at your home. begin referring to 8kusd a month....
    ◐◐◐◐◐◐ w­w­w­.­s­t­a­r­t­-­c­y­b­e­r­.­c­o­m­­­

    ReplyDelete
  20. MOORE LOANS SAVE ME WHEN THERE WAS NO HOPE {mooreloancompany@yahoo.com}

    Hello everyone in this forum, I am Luis Root from USA, I cannot believe that God really exist not until i was Redeemed and saved from Financial bondage.. l was into financial crisis and needed to pay some bills. l tried seeking help from banks but all to no avail,l also tried seeking help from the internet only to meet scammers who pretended to be private lender and made away with my $15000 and did not get my loan, not until GOD introduce me to Moore Robbinson through a friend who was rescued from financial problem and a loan of $100,000.00 was granted to him by Moore Robbinson, so l took his advise and contacted Moore Loan Company and in the space of one week my loan of $200000 was granted to me.so my advise to everyone seeking for loan at low interest rate of 2% .l am doing this because l am so happy am out of financial bondage and am once again full of joy and life is easy all thanks to GOD and Moore Robbinson. You can contact Moore Loan Company via {mooreloancompany@yahoo.com} OR Text (414) 454-9493

    ReplyDelete
  21. RECENTLY CURED FROM HIV ..hello, i am very happy to inform you that i am finally cured from HIV virus with the use of herbal medicine, the herbal medicine cured me completely and i was tested negative after usege, i am using this means to inform other''s who have the virus that there is a cure for HIV. it is absolutley true, this is not a scam. i confirm it my self and i am a living withness to it. i was cured by Dr.Camala, only him i can recognise who cure hiv perfectly well the rest other doctor are scams . i will advice you to contact this great doctor who GOD sent to put an end to the sorrow life of HIV, his email is dr.camalahivadscure@yahoo.com WHATSAPP +2349055637784, he can also cure other disease as well.

    ReplyDelete

I love getting your comments, they make my day! If you have a specific question you want answered, please send me a message by clicking the Contact tab at the top, or even better, contact me on twitter or facebook and I'll get back to you ASAP! Thank you so much for reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Designed by Minimalsphere