After retiring from her career as a university professor, Sarah wanted to keep helping young people figure out their future. She decided to sign up to become a mentor and was matched with Danielle*, who attends Craigroyston Community High School in Edinburgh. This is their story.
Sarah was first made aware of the MCR programme from her daughter, who works in education publishing.
“She’d seen a MCR Pathways stand at a book fair and she thought it would be something for me to do in my retirement. And she was absolutely right. It’s brilliant!”
The first meeting between the two was awkward, but with a little help from the school’s Pathways Coordinator, the pair found their groove.
“It was quite tough to start with because we didn’t know anything about each other, Laura, who’s the MCR Pathways Coordinator, sat with us for the first while and we found things that we had in common. Danielle said she wanted to do zoology and that is what I had done my original degree in and that was kind of an opening. Danielle then said she was interested in the police force and my nephew-in-law is in the police so it kind of went naturally from there. “
After getting to know one another more, Sarah and Danielle’s relationship began to flourish. They soon learned what makes each other tick and their sessions revolve around subjects they are both interested in, as they explain.
“We usually talk about our days first of all. ‘How are you?’ Ask ‘what is your plan?’ Just like normal small talk and then we will get into what options we have like volunteering and what activities we can do.”
“I usually ask you: ‘What was the best thing and worst thing that happened last week?’ Even for a mentor, for a couple of minutes it can be difficult to start a conversation, but you soon adjust.”
In addition to being a university lecturer, Sarah felt that her experiences of school life and life experience, as a whole, would be hugely beneficial to a young person. Sarah says:
“Well, I was at school a million years ago, but I have to say I didn’t really enjoy school and I really sort of took off when I went to university. I think it’s that kind of knowing how academic studies can kind of set your mind free, that’s what makes me want to share that with other young people and get them to be the best that they can be.
Since Sarah and Danielle have began meeting, both mentor and mentee have noticed Danielle’s attitude has changed in school, for the better.
“I notice that I enjoy learning new things in school and I appreciate education a lot more. I realise that coming to school can actually be extremely beneficial for me.”
“Danielle’s much more outgoing. She’s been through some tough times and she’s came through the other side. She’s on track for being the best Danielle she possibly can be and also being happy.”
Both Danielle and Sarah have seen their relationship grow and have learned so much about one another. With the programme expanding to new areas and new schools this year, they have some words of wisdom to share for those who are thinking of getting involved.
“Got for it, straight away! It will help you so much. It will make you realise that going to university and applying for volunteer things will help you with your CV. Plus it’s always good to have someone to talk to about it and who understands. It’s just a great opportunity.”
“Well I’ve already got my brother signed up! It’s just very rewarding and you feel like you’re actually giving something back. It’s good to feel like you’ve got some sort of expertise and it’s amazing to share it with a young person.”
Have you been inspired to become a mentor after reading about Danielle and Sarah’s relationship? You can #BeTheBridge for a young person and register to mentor via the button below.