STRIVE throws party for seventh graduating class
Aug 09, 2019|Written By: Dylan Rosenthal
In what has become an annual tradition, nearly 50 people gathered at Trinity Presbyterian Church on June 12 to celebrate STRIVE’s 18 mentoring pairs and it’s seventh graduating class. After a welcome by STRIVE Assistant Coordinator Dylan Rosenthal and blessing by participant Joseph, guests enjoyed a meal catered by Wayside Chicken. Next, STRIVE participants and mentors took turns standing before their peers, families, and Abundant Life staff and board members, sharing their accomplishments from the year and future plans. Attendees applauded such achievements as new jobs, driver’s licenses, art shows, a new apartment, and a state soccer championship. Notably, all three Class of 2019 graduates were accepted to and plan on attending four-year universities.
“It’s really been fun because we have set goals together and I feel like he’s holding me accountable to my goals just as much as I am to him, and I’m learning a lot.” – STRIVE mentor Steven
TIME OF SHARING REVEALS MUTUAL BENEFIT OF MENTORING RELATIONSHIPS
Sophomore Manny and his mentor of two years, Steven, spoke of how the support and accountability has flowed both ways. Manny mentioned some of the goals Steven has set around work and fitness and noted his progress before talking about his own goals. Said Steven, “It’s really been fun because we have set goals together and I feel like he’s holding me accountable to my goals just as much as I am to him, and I’m learning a lot and he’s pushing me and encouraging me… I think sometimes I’m being mentored more than I’m mentoring but it’s been great.”
Mentor Terrance praised his mentee, Class of 2019 graduate Majestic, stating, “We play ball, we study together, we play video games, we’ve had hard conversations. I would say Majestic is one of the most confident people I’ve ever met.” Majestic explained why he has so much appreciation for Terrance before announcing his future plans. “I’m thankful that Terrance is my mentor because being around him helps me with school and life. He’s helped me make up some goals for life and school, which has also helped me get to college. Without him I don’t know, because there was a moment when I didn’t think I was going to go to college. But now, being around Terrance, [he helps] me study, and just focus more on school and think more about my future. Oh, and I’m going to Virginia Union University.”
“There was a moment when I didn’t think I was going to go to college. But now, being around Terrance, [he helps] me study, and just focus more on school and think more about my future.” – STRIVE Class of 2019 graduate Majestic
LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS BEAR FRUIT
Despite having aged out of the program, STRIVE alumnus and Class of 2017 graduate Diego noted that he and his mentor Clay still meet together six years after being matched. He mentioned that STRIVE prepared him well for college (he attended Piedmont Virginia Community College while working full-time) and expressed his appreciation to Coordinator Richard Feero and Assistant Coordinator Dylan, whom he described as having known “forever.”
Mentor Jerry proudly spoke about his mentee of four years, Class of 2019 graduate Cardale. “He crushed all the goals. It was really exciting to be someone that could teach him how to drive. I was one of the first cars that he really actually drove. I didn’t know that until he was behind [the wheel],” Jerry chuckled, noting that Cardale is a natural. Jerry continued, “He kept up with his grades, he got into six out of eight colleges that he applied to. He’s going to be playing football in school as well. That was a goal early on that kind of got pushed to the side, but it’s cool to see that come back around.” Cardale then announced, “I’m going to Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina.”
PROGRAM’S STELLAR RECORD CONTINUES
With three more college-bound graduates, STRIVE maintains its 100% high school on-time graduation rate (23 out of 23) and expects it’s college attendance rate to increase to 87% this fall, despite nearly all participants being first-generation college students. Within six months of graduating, 100% of participants have been employed, enrolled in college, or both.