Our mentors and mentees describe many different positive outcomes of the mentorship relationship. Our mentors share that they can observe significant changes in their mentees over time. Mentors celebrate the small and big successes with their students and witness many “firsts”. Mentors delight in watching their mentees grow and develop into more self-determined individuals.
One of our mentors, Maricor Pagsanjan, reflects on the process of mentoring youth with complex communication needs who use AAC tools and strategies:
The mentor’s role is to guide the student to where they want to be in life.
Mentoring has taught me a lot about disabilities.
Mentoring has to begin with the student trusting his or her mentor. Trust-building is essential to the relationship. My goal with every student is to help them achieve their full potential.
Mentorship is not always easy. Maricor talks about the challenges she faced as a mentor to youth with complex communication needs. She says, “The student I have been working with has my same disabilities, which has been cool and a challenge. As a mentor, one has to figure out what strategies you have to use to get the individual to talk with you.”
Maricor talks about other challenges she faced as a mentor to youth with complex communication needs. One challenge was coming to the realization that the rate of growth and change was personal for each student. She shared, “Mentoring has taught me that you have to let the individual grow at their own pace or it will not work.”
Maricor reflects on the various ways she has communicated with her mentees.
Mentoring is about finding the most effective way to communicate with your mentee. The different age groups work differently. My older teens like email as it gives them the freedom to ask questions when questions come up. They also like meeting in person because they sometimes need to see me. I like Skype for meeting my younger mentee, but sometimes I prefer to meet her in person. I like that when she has a question like, “How do you have your attendant adjust you in your chair?”, I can just show her right there. I like that in person I am able to answer her questions the minute she asks them.
Our mentors guide students in many different environments, including school, home and in their communities.
I love sending a student back to class ready to work because we had a chance to talk.
I also enjoy teaching a student how to communicate in their own community.
Maricor plans to continue her role as a mentor to youth with complex communication needs. In fact, she plans to return to graduate school to work towards her master’s degree.
This job helped me decide to go back to school because: 1) I know I want to do this for a career; and 2) What good would I be if I did not finish my own self-determination goals?
Being a mentor can provide inspiration to everyone involved!