Mentorship Program: Enriching Young Women in South Central Los Angeles
My passion for education derives from my involvement with my church and community. I have been a member of Pilgrim Congregational Church U.C.C. located in Los Angeles, California for over 14 years. I grew up participating with the youth ministry and working with a community outreach program, which allowed me to mentor young children within the South Central Los Angeles community. During the summer, I conducted a tutoring program for the children. It brings me pleasure to watch the young children I whom mentor follow in my footsteps. I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. Therefore, community service is my number one priority and, as I continue in my pursuit of higher education, I want to give back my time, talent, and experience. For this reason, I worked to create a mentoring program aimed to inspire young women to obtain higher education, develop life goals, and provide them with the support to achieve their dreams and goals.
Effective education requires the involvement of students, teachers, parents, and the community. In the classroom, students and teachers must work together to make effective education possible. However, education does not stop in the classroom; it also extends into the home and environment. The student’s community plays an important role in the student’s life and educational journey. As an educator, I plan to collaborate with parents and have them involved in the education process. Learning occurs in the student’s environment, and it is my job as an educator to create four-part collaborations between the parents, students, teachers, and their environment.
My role as an educator is to motivate my students. I want my students to discover value in the education they are receiving. This is done by clearly stating my expectation for my students within the classroom, school, and community. I want my students to be able to undergo a self-reflection period, which will allow them to assess their life and educational goals and reflect on how they can use their education to achieve these goals. By doing this, my students will view their education as an assistive tool that will help them reach their personal goals. Their motivation should be self-induced, not encouraged through incentives such as grades.
For students, critical thinking is an important skill. They must be able to utilize their classroom knowledge in real-life scenarios. My aim is to instill in students community awareness. There is always someone with greater needs than ours, and we can individually find ways to assist others in our community. I will encourage my students to become active members of their community and seek ways in which they can use their time and talent to make a difference. Personal gain is good to obtain, but there is a special joy one receives when they help other people in need.
At the beginning of my educational journey at Pepperdine University, I was faced with the challenge of developing my personal philosophy on education. In a broad sense, I knew I wanted to make an effective change in my community. However, due to the courses I have taken at Pepperdine and my interaction with other master’s candidates, I was able to refine my concept on education. I found out that my passion is rooted from my personal experience growing up as a Nigerian, an American, and a woman. I have experienced that there is a negative connotation attached to all three of these labels. As a Nigerian native, I am aware of the lack of opportunity available to women in education and the work force. As an American, I am aware that structural racism still exists within a nation that claims to offer equality for all its citizens. As a woman, I understand that I will need to work even harder to realize my dreams. I acknowledge that all children should be given the same opportunity and extra help in order to obtain higher education and pursue their goals. I cannot try to save the world if I do not first take the time to make a difference in my community.
My primary focus has been to encourage young women in the inner city to pursue higher education. This calling derived from my participation at Pilgrim Congregational Church U.C.C. on the corner of 46th and Normandie, in the city Los Angeles. This area is considered South Central Los Angeles and it is predominately a Latino and African American community. Being a member for over fourteen years, I have watched young women I grew up with stray from their life goals due to environmental circumstances. We lacked strong role models to look up to and direct us through the right path leading to success. I count myself blessed to be one of the few that were able to take the “road less traveled.” I was fortunate enough to from graduate high school with honors, attend and graduate from a university, and now work on a master’s degree. I am living a life that most young women from this community believe is unattainable. For them, I am a beacon of hope.
With the help of a few friends from church, I created a mentoring program for young children. It started off as a summer camp at the church for the children ages 5-18. The program offered extracurricular activities and a daycare center for children during the summer. I observed that the young girls who attended the program looked up to my sister and me. They loved the way I dressed and carried myself, so they all began to “act” like I did. I soon developed an interest in mentoring these young girls. I wanted them to do more than just “act” like me; I wanted them to achieve the things that I had achieved and more!
I decided to add a supplementary program to the already existing church summer camp. Together with my sister, we developed a mentoring program for young women. We select young, Christian, college-attending girls to serve as mentors. Our program consists of young girls ages 8-18. Each mentor is assigned a group of girls that they will work with over the course of the year. We meet with the girls twice a month to conduct multiple activities. The activities include Bible studies, outings, seminars, and college-preparatory courses. Our mission is to serve as role models to young girls in our community.
This year I was fortunate to work with four high school students. Over the course of the semester, I was able to assist the young girls with SAT and ACT preparation courses, as well as assisting them with the college application process. I have worked with my group of girls for three years, and I am proud at the things they have accomplished. I also conducted a college information session and tour event. The girls made a list of their dream universities they hope to attend. I took them on a tour of some campuses here in California: UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, USC, California State University, Long Beach, and Pepperdine University. They actually attended my graduation and now many of the young women are interested in applying to Pepperdine.
My primary focus with the mentoring program is to encourage girls expand their goals past their societal expectations. I want them to discover that opportunities are not reserved for the rich or white. My goal is to expose the girls to the extra work they will be required to put in to attain their goals. I strive to encourage each girl to develop self-confidence, become a reflective thinker, be logical, and to always look for ways to give back to their community. This independent study course offered me the opportunity to develop new ways to impact change through the mentoring program. I was able to recruit more young women to serve as mentor, as well as young girls to participate in the program. I was also able to raise money through donations made from church members to help fund a trip to Santa Barbara with the girls. I am excited about the growth and changes I was able to make within this short period of time. An additional goal of mine is to now transform this mentoring program into a nonprofit organization.