We asked Nadia Allen, an RBC Raise the Grade participant and mentor, about her experience.
How did you get involved with Boys and Girls Clubs?
I started as a mentee in grade 10 and continued until I finished high school. I graduated from the program at the end of grade 12, and became a mentor in my second year of university.
Were you involved with Boys and Girls Clubs before Raise the Grade?
I started going to my local Club in the summer of grade seven. I first went to the Club because of my two friends. My two sisters also joined, so we would all go there and hang out. I later became a part of the Club’s Youth Council. There were so many different events that I enjoyed helping out with.
What was your favourite things about the Club?
The people. There was a lot going on, with renovations and different locations, and I enjoyed meeting and hanging out with new people.
As a mentee, what were some of your memorable moments?
I would have to say just meeting with my mentor in general. He would always do his best to help me, so I could achieve or accomplish whatever goal I was working towards. I needed a lot of help with my resume and the whole job process. In grade eleven, I planned on taking a service trip to the Dominican Republic, but I needed a job to be able to go. My mentor helped me choose what to put on my resume, how to structure it, and how to format it. He helped me look for things to say and what to highlight. He also set up a mock interview. I was able to practice and see how an actual interview would go. I got my first job because of my mentor!
What was a highlight of RBC Raise the Grade?
When I was a mentee, we used to have outings where we would go out with other people in the program, talk, and see what others were doing with their mentees. It was nice to see and learn about the other mentors. The last outing I remember was going to an Escape Manor and it was a lot of fun!
What were some memorable moments as a mentor?
I’ve known my mentee since she was in grade nine. The fact that I get to see her grow and mature is really rewarding since I’ve known her for that long. It’s great seeing her determination to do well and better herself. She’s in grade twelve now and she’s very motivated to go off to university and pursue the program of her choice.
How did you change throughout the program?
I became more organized and definitely improved my time management skills, thanks to Raise the Grade and my mentor. I remember we would work on procrastination a lot, so I’ve definitely gotten better in that area. Now, I’m currently going into my fourth year at Carleton University, studying for a Bachelor of Science and Neuroscience.
Studying in this field and working with youth, do you see issues around mental health?
Yes, for sure. Stress plays a factor in a lot of mental illnesses and it’s hard for kids and youth to realize that there are so many resources around them. Some are as young as three years old! It is tough that many of them don’t know what their resources are, and they can’t get the help that they need when they need it.
It’s my goal to pursue a career in this field. In high school biology, we did a section in neuroscience that I was really interested in. It’s a great path to follow if I want to get into medical school.
How do you balance your university studies with being a mentor? What made you come back to be a mentor?
I try to make my school schedule open enough so I can still volunteer and do other things outside of school. I make sure I have one day off to do other things. I just plan and manage time wisely to make time for RBC Raise the Grade. I really liked the program and I want to give back. I really want to provide that same feeling to another person.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully, I’ll be done a Master’s program and in my first years of medical school. I’d like to have traveled and gotten more life experience.
What inspires you?
Since my parents are immigrants from St. Vincent and they came here to provide a better life for me, I just want to do better so they can be happy and proud. That is definitely my motivation. What inspires me when working with the youth is being someone that they can come to and reach out to—I know I wanted that when I was younger so I want to be that for them.