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Besties Benefit From Mentors

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Pictured left to right are Lee Ellen Kerr, Jazmine Jones, Ruby Houston, and Stephanie Jones.

Best friends Ruby Houston and Jazmine Jones have known each other for several years. You could say they knew almost everything about themselves and each other, except one thing. They didn’t know what they would do after high school or how they would earn a living.

Seniors at Pontiac Academy for Excellence and students in our mentoring program, Ruby and Jazmine worked with their mentors, Lee Ellen Kerr and Stephanie Jones, to create strategic plans that challenged them to look five years into the future, envision their professional lives, and develop one, three, and five year goals. Ruby said she wanted to be a marketer. Jazmine said she wanted to work in education, either as an early childhood educator or special education teacher.

Ruby and Jazmine had great aspirations that were mostly based on what they read, saw on television or heard from others. With little real experience or knowledge, how could they know those fields would be a good fit? What if they were wrong?

Lee Ellen and Stephanie saw an opportunity to help and took action. Through her network of colleagues and friends, Lee Ellen arranged for Ruby and Jazmine to participate in job shadows. Ruby spent a day with representatives from the marketing department at Dow Automotive. Jazmine shadowed Lee Ellen’s husband, John Kerr, who is a junior high school special education teacher at Davison Middle School.

Stephanie took Ruby to the Women Empowered Conference in Troy where she heard from powerful female business executives who shared their wisdom about how to succeed and thrive in the business world.

“It helped me decide that marketing is what I want to do,” said Ruby. “Every doubt I had disappeared.”

“I learned a lot from Mr. Kerr,” said Jazmine. “The experience helped me make my decision – that I want to major in special education.”

As best friends often do, Ruby and Jazmine plan to stay close after they graduate from high school. Not through text messages and phone calls. They literally plan to stay close. Next fall both will attend and room together at Saginaw Valley State University where they received scholarships and will learn how to be a marketer and teacher. Someday, they might even help some high school students figure out a career path.

Interested in helping students, like Ruby and Jazmine? It’s not difficult, and the impact is both inspirational and fulfilling. Learn how you can give the support and guidance so many students critically need.