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A Mentor Changed My Life

I do not have a sad story to tell about a broken home with drugs or abuse in my past. I am a normal girl, from a small town and a daughter of blue collar parents, living out the American dream. I was always an above average student in my younger years. Once I reached high school I had no focus or direction for what “career path” I should take or what my interests were. I was a quiet drifter. However, that was about to change!

One day, when I was 15, a very pregnant woman, with a strong New York accent waddled into my Marketing classroom as my new teacher. I honestly thought to myself that this Yankee did not stand a chance in our small, southern roots town. She was about to prove me wrong!

She saw something in me, something in this average girl that was not so average. I was quiet and I was plain. Nothing about me (in my eyes) was special. She slowly began to ask me to participate in activities for school and volunteer activities within the community. Next thing I knew I was reading to children, wrapping Christmas presents for less fortunate children to donate, planting trees at local schools, etc. She was talking to me, finding out about me, showing me things that I never thought I could do.

After one year she asked me to be a leader in our school based organization, DECA – A Division of Marketing Students. I accepted, reluctantly. I thought – “What does this woman want me to do? I am not special. Why would anyone want me to be a 'leader'?”

Little did I know, this woman had big plans for me! Over the course of the next three years she coached me and encouraged me into becoming a DECA Chapter and Regional President. I competed in “thought – provoking” competitions about Marketing and I marketed myself in a campaign for VA DECA State President my senior year, commencing with a 15 minute speech in front of hundreds of people. I was no longer a shy little girl with no direction. I was a fire ball of confidence and I was on my way to doing something that I never dreamed I would do – college!

Through her direction and motivation and kind words I found myself applying and getting accepted to a four year university. I ended up getting over 80% of a private college paid for because of scholarships based on my good grades and involvement in my community. Items I would of never have had if not for her!

To this day, over 10 years later, I consider this woman a mentor and more importantly now she is a confidant and a dear friend. She has been there for me through many chapters in my life. She did not have to spend hours at a time with me. (Although now we easily talk for that long on the phone) She just made the moments that she did spend with me, however few or many, meaningful and sincere and it showed! I am now a successful college grad, that graduated in the top of my class and I have the career I have dreamed about having.

She probably never realized that those little moments and words of encouragement that she gave would transform my life the way it did – but it has! I am forever changed and forever grateful!

There are many children in this world who are eager for someone to talk to them, someone to show an interest and encourage them to do things they never dreamed of doing! My hope is that I will be joined by many to give back, what was given to me – a chance!  A chance to live to my potential, a chance to be all that I could be, a chance to succeed and be cared about. She save my life…….I wonder how many lives we can “save” if we work together to mentor a child!

Mentor. Tutor. Pass it on!

Posted by guest blogger, Melissa Soutter, Sales Manager, The Omni Hotel.

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This blog is part of a Blog Marathon aimed to bring awareness to our community of the current needs for mentors and tutors.  Visit www.cvillevolunteer.org to learn about how YOU can make a difference in the life of a child.

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