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Donna Rochester’s Story

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Donna Rochester's MenteeMy mentee is a Winning Futures success story! She graduated Community High and is now in her second college semester studying physical therapy and will be traveling to England this spring followed by a study semester in Greece. But none of this was ever her plan before joining Winning Futures. Back then; she faced some pretty serious obstacles and her plan in life was simply to stay alive.

Since she was standoffish and somewhat defensive during the first few months as my mentee, I was always careful not to push her. I wasn’t having much success getting her to focus on her 5-year plan until the day that Laurie Tarter shared her heartbreaking story of personal tragedy and how she eventually pulled up her own “boot straps” and learned how to be a survivor and how to celebrate life.

With tears, my mentee turned to me and said, “How am I suppose to make a 5 year plan when I don’t even know if I’m going to make it home alive today or any day.” She said that she has lost neighbors and friends to violence and rape on her own inner city street and that it was just a matter of time until it would happen to her. Her fears prevented her from planning her future. Her reality was not college and career, but rather life and safety.

It was Laurie’s story that finally allowed my mentee to open up and share. Together, we worked to finish her 5-year plan and she is now dedicated to working her plan. The one thing, she says, that she took away from her Winning Futures experience was the confidence and courage to know that if tragedy ever did strike, she too could learn to be a strong survivor like Laurie. That she had to face her fears and obstacles if she ever hoped to move forward. And with this confidence, she says, she knows she can do anything!  Thanks to Winning Futures.