How Being a Mentor for the Emily Shane Foundation Changed my Life

This blog post was written by SEA mentor Amber Hoskins. Her work has helped The Emily Shane Foundation So Much, and her personal involvement with the SEA program has influenced so many students. Thanks, Amber!

How Being a Mentor for the Emily Shane Foundation Changed my Life

For a struggling student without mentorship, education is like attempting to paint a Picasso masterpiece using only finger paints.

Burdensome, frustrating, and seemingly impossible.

I realized this back when I became a mentor to a 5th grade girl in 2012. Originally, I signed up to get volunteer hours to put on my college applications—a shamelessly selfish act. Little did I know, those Thursday afternoons spent tutoring and mentoring would be forever tattooed on my heart—a constant humbling reminder of those struggling more than I.

Through the program, I was transported back to my elementary school days.

Only this school was nothing like the one I attended.

Murals attempted to cover obscene graffiti markings, coupled with unkempt playgrounds and trash that smelt like it had been there for years created the dark, dismal atmosphere.

Seeing the faces of these struggling students for the first time, it was apparent that defeat was a common denominator.

That was the first moment I realized why I was there; why organizations like the Emily Shane Foundation and SEA exist—to be the light in a young, struggling students' life.

Little did I know this was the first moment that was really going to make a difference in my life.

Maria, my 4th grade mentee, came from a home where no one spoke English. A home where a finding the next meal was a daily concern. A home like I had never seen. Maria was struggling physically, emotionally and educationally. I knew if I could at least help with the last one, I could make a difference. And this is something I had never done before.

After a semester, Maria’s education was clearly improving. As test after test came back with higher grades, I found myself filled with joy.

It might seem like this process was easy, but it was far from it.
Both Maria and myself found ourselves in moments of complete frustration. But those raw moments of intense pressure produced the student Maria is today.

Maria is in 11th grade now.

A 5th grader who once found herself at the bottom of her class, is now writing college applications and has dreams of having a career– a first for her family.

I initially signed up to be a mentor with college applications on my mind.

However, because of this program, Maria now can’t get college applications off her mind.

That’s what mentorship is all about.

For more information on The Emily Shane Foundation and becoming a mentor with SEA, visit