I wanted to share an email I received the other day from Jennifer Jackson, a volunteer mentor for the TBTF Foundation. Jennifer has been working with one of the Foundation’s scholarship recipients for close to three years. This is a great story and provides an excellent example of why programs like the TBTF Foundation are so important in the lives of underprivileged kids in our local communities. Thanks for all you do, Jennifer. You are making a lasting impact.
Saw this today and wanted to reach out to let you know what a fan I am of TBTF Foundation and share my own experience of how the organization is impacting our local youth.
August will mark my third year as a volunteer student mentor to one of the TBTF / Hillsborough Education Foundation scholarship recipients. I am amazed by my student's accomplishments and know she is relieved and grateful for the investment that's being made in her college education. We continuously discuss the many career paths she can pursue with a science, technology, math or engineering background. I work with her to define her goals and create action plans for achieving them. Each year she creates a list of 101 goals she has for her life. She continues to apply for 2 new scholarships per month and knows that even with the TBTF scholarship, she will have a number of additional financial needs she must account for. She comes from a very modest background but does not let it deter her from dreaming big and exceeding the expectations others put upon her.
At 14 years old, my student talked to me about getting a car when she turned 16. We discussed this at great length and she recognized her family's inability to contribute toward the purchase of her first vehicle. She had already begun saving for her first car and explained that she would continue to do so in order to buy a vehicle as soon as she got her license. Thinking back to being 14 years old, I never expected her to stick to this plan and save such a large amount of money at such a young age. Especially when she deals with the pressures of competing with her peers who have their own credit cards and unlimited access to whatever clothes and accessories they wish to purchase from the mall (as a former teenage girl, I know this is a HUGE deal!). I have to admit, I was shocked to hear, "Jennifer, I got my license and bought a car this summer" when I saw her for the first time after summer break. I was amazed that she had such discipline and tenacity at a time when most kids her age have zero grasp of working hard and planning ahead for their financial future. If I'm honest, many adults don't grasp this concept either.
This is just one example of how amazing this young person is. She makes straight A's and takes all honors classes at a local private school. She goes to school with many privileged teenagers who don't understand her financial situation or why it's so important for her to make good grades, earn as many scholarships as possible and work hard to earn & pay for the things she wants in life. She never complains and always has a smile on her face. She asks tons of questions about college life, teenage life and her future in general. She calls & emails me whenever she is faced with a tough decision and I do my best to give her the kind of advice I wish I'd been given at her age. She loves learning about what I do in my career and about the different career paths available in technology, especially for women.
Anyway, I wanted to share with you what I've experienced as a result of the opportunities being afforded to kids through TBTF Foundation. I believe that assigning a mentor to these students allows them to gain real world insight that teachers don't necessarily have to share unless they've also worked outside of the educational field. It's also nice for them to receive guidance from someone besides the typical adult influences in their lives. Additionally, it bridges the gap between business and philanthropy in a way that helps further grow the number of students interested in pursuing STEM careers.
I hope that I'm making a positive impact in my student's life and can assure you she has vastly impacted mine. Helping children is a huge passion and it's awesome to be able to share what I'm passionate about in my career life (technology) with what I'm passionate about in my personal life (helping kids). I hope to continue mentoring through TBTF Foundation with a new scholarship recipient after my current student graduates. As long as members continue to support the cause, I'm sure I'll be able to.