Today's blog post is brought to you by Pepperdine student Katie Conklin. Her powerful story of her friend Malika illustrates the power of the SEA program. Thank you, Katie!
My friend Malika is 11 years old.
My friend Malika loves to play soccer.
My friend Malika has two brothers.
My friend Malika uses commas incorrectly.
My friend Malika enjoys painting my nails.
My friend Malika’s dad just died of cancer.
My friend Malika feels uninterested in doing her homework.
My friend Malika is lacking leadership and support in her life.
My friend Malika needs a mentor.
This is the true story of a little girl I used to spend my Tuesday afternoons with volunteering at an afterschool mentorship program. She is bright and sarcastic and full of energy. After her father’s death, she became detached from all of those around her and had no more passion or drive. As if being a normal middle school child isn’t hard enough, losing a parent at that age forces you to grow up at a rate that no one can prepare you for.
Eleven years old is not the right age to learn that life is unfair. Middle school issues should be about confusing hormones and algebra – not about how your family will survive now that you have lost a parent.
Because of Malika’s involvement in the mentorship program, I was able to help her cope with the loss of her father and keep her engaged with school and her extracurriculars. One of my fondest memories was seeing Malika at a restaurant outside of our afterschool program. This was about a month after her father had died, and this was also the first time I had seen her smile or run full speed since that day. She sprinted as fast as she could to come hug me and say hello – it was a great surprise to see each other out in the real world. In that moment I could feel that she was back on the road to feeling happy and whole again.
She would forever be changed after the loss of her father, but I knew that she would not fall through the cracks of our education system or become one of the thousands of students who give up on themselves and do not have the support or mentorship of someone to pull them back up.
The power of mentorship to middle school age children is indescribable. Millions of people face death, sickness, poverty, divorce, and other tragedies every day. Children without proper mentorship or guidance will often lose interest in their education and from there lose interest in their overall self-worth. Organizations like the Emily Shane Foundation have created programs like SEA (Successful Educational Achievement) to mentor and guide these disprivileged children. Being a mentor has allowed me to save one child from this unfortunate future.
My friend Malika is now 13 years old.
My friend Malika is strong.
My friend Malika has overcome tragedy.
My friend Malika has learned how to use commas.
My friend Malika is full of life.
This is a picture of SEA student Alexa and her mentor, Jessica. Working together on geometry, Alexa's grades have been improving!