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The Most Important Gift My Mentor Gave Me

January is National Mentoring Month, and to celebrate, we asked one young person to reflect on what having a mentor means to her. For more stories and information about the importance of mentors, check out Five Ways to Get Involved with National Mentoring Month.

Megan PhilipsI’ve always hated public speaking. My voice quivers, my knees shake, and I sweat buckets. I never thought I would ever have the guts to volunteer to speak in front of a group of people—but one day I did.

It happened at my second Minnesota Youth Council retreat, when one of the coordinators of the council asked me if I wanted to help with one of their presentations. My intention was to decline the offer, but before I could, someone else accepted it for me. Nayely, my adult partner on the council, immediately said that I would love to, and so I was forced to face one of my fears, something I soon learned she would help me do constantly.

In my mind, the development of one’s confidence in themselves and their capabilities is essential for a person to be able to reach their full potential. My development, like many people, started when I was young and continues to be developed to this day.

One of the most influential experiences that has helped to develop my confidence is becoming a member of the Minnesota Youth Council, a program of the Minnesota Alliance With Youth. I have seen my confidence grow, which is why I classify my involvement in the council as one of the most rewarding activities that I have ever participated in.

The main reason why is because of my adult partner, Nayely Becerra. We were matched up through my school district—she had just been hired as an intercultural specialist at the district’s middle schools when her boss suggested that she be my adult partner.

Without even knowing who I was or what exactly the Minnesota Youth Council was, she immediately said yes, something I’ll always be grateful for. Nayely to me is more than my adult partner. She’s my friend and one of my only role models.

She knows that life is short and strives to live every day to the fullest, something I also firmly believe. She’s educated in countless fields, fluent in Spanish and English, works out and makes meal plans, and she is never not busy. She’s constantly either working, taking online classes through the University of Minnesota, hanging out with friends, taking improv classes, acting in short films, attending slam poetry events, or taking amazing pictures.

Through working with her on the MYC and going on the occasional coffee date, I’m proud to say that she has become one of my role models. Nayely has supported me through everything: council work, school, work, future education plans, among others, and she’s taught me that I should never stop trying to learn new things and that it’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or try something crazy. She is someone I hope to resemble when I’m older.Through her mentoring, I’m gradually gaining the confidence to reach that goal.

Megan Phillips is a senior at Chanhassen High School and a member of the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, a GradNation State Activation Initiative grantee.

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