By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
With the deadline to apply fast approaching, more volunteers are needed to help mentor local high school seniors in the Tennessee Promise college scholarship program.The organization which manages …
With the deadline to apply fast approaching, more volunteers are needed to help mentor local high school seniors in the Tennessee Promise college scholarship program.
The organization which manages the program in this area, tnAchieves, has set Dec. 1 as the deadline for adults to join this program as mentors.
Tennessee Promise is a so-called "last-dollar" scholarship program which allows students to attend any of the state’s community colleges or colleges of applied technology at no cost to them. To help ensure the students’ success, they are assigned mentors who can help them navigate the process of going to college.
Ben Sterling, assistant director of outreach for tnAchieves, said these mentors are valuable additions to many students’ support systems. While some students have parents who will encourage them as they pursue their goals, others do not. If problems arise, they need a trusted adult to whom they can go for advice.
“Sometimes, when there’s an obstacle — even a small one — it becomes an insurmountable thing to them,” Sterling said. “The idea is that we can plant an encouragement piece in their college-going process.”
Being a mentor involves communicating regularly with a few assigned students. Most of a mentor’s communication with his or her students will consist of sending reminders by email, text message or phone call. Sterling estimates the average mentor spends about an hour a month contacting students and answering any questions they have.
One need not be an expert on every aspect of the college-going process. In fact, tnAchieves has each mentor attend a free training session to learn how to answer students’ questions.
Mentors can choose to attend one of two mentor training sessions being held in Cleveland in January 2018. They will also attend a couple meetings with their students throughout the following year.
Dr. Bill Seymour, president of Cleveland State Community College, said earlier this academic year that Tennessee Promise has successfully helped many students enroll in college, thanks in part to its supportive volunteer mentors.
“The mentor piece continues to be an important one for students, especially those who are first-generation college students,” Seymour said. “We appreciate the individuals throughout our five-county service area who have chosen to give back in this way.”
To become a mentor, one must be at least 21 years old and be willing to undergo a background check. Visit www.tnachieves.org for more information or to apply.
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