Mentors Sought For Tennessee Promise Program

Friday, October 6, 2017
Tracey Wright
Tracey Wright

According to Graham Thomas, deputy director of Engagement and Partnerships of tnAchieves, Bradley County has only found 58 of the 160 Tennessee Promise mentors needed for the program.

“Cleveland State has really led the way,” said Mr. Thomas. “And we would like business and industry to rise to the challenge, as well. To his credit, Gary Farlow at the Chamber has also been a great partner.

“Most of the students that use Tennessee Promise are the first in their family to attend college, and we know the process can be intimidating and frustrating. Mentors provide the encouragement and gentle nudges students need to be successful in their transition from high school to college.”

Tracey Wright, CSCC assistant to the president for Special Programs and Community Relations, has been a mentor since the start of the tnAchieves program before it was Tennessee Promise. She said, “I am a believer that I am standing on the shoulders of a lot of people who helped me in my journey, and I know how much receiving a college education has changed my life, so I see this as a way to give back to someone else.”

Ms. Wright was  worried about the time commitment at first, but quickly came to realize that it averages 45 minutes to one hour on the months without team meetings, and the months with team meetings (two a year), it averages less than two hours—less than the amount of time she said she would spend shopping over the weekend!

To become a mentor, there are several steps you must follow:

-          Apply online by Dec. 1
-          Complete mandatory mentor training by Feb. 15
-          Attend first mentor / student meeting in March / April
-          Attend second mentor / student meeting in October
-          Contact students at least once every two weeks from the following March through
            December

For Ms. Wright, mentoring has been a humbling experience. Some of her greatest moments have been hearing back from some of the students she has mentored that she has made a difference in their lives—that the advice she has given them was helpful to them. She is already looking forward to this commencement season to celebrate with one of her students she mentored who will be graduating in the spring.

“You can’t give up on them if they don’t respond to you right away. You are reaching them. You can’t get your feeling hurt easily. You ever know which ones of them are paying attention to you. I joke about this when I’m trying to recruit others. I wish I could say that every student that I have been assigned is just waiting by their phone on baited breath waiting on my call or my text or my email that I have thought long and hard about, but the reality is that there are some students that I rarely if ever hear from, but I try not to let that deter me to keep me from doing what I think is a worthwhile and important service.”

Ms. Wright said the tnAchieves team makes it easy for all the mentors by providing them with weekly emails of what to share with students. They introduce mentors to a wealth of experts from the college who can assist them should they have any questions about the application or financial aid process.

Ms. Wright said, “If you see a need in the community in which you live, whether its Bradley county, Meigs, McMinn, Monroe or Polk, for having a better educated workforce, if you see that need on the state level or the federal level, this is an easy way that you can play a role in helping Tennessee, helping the United States, or helping your county turn that situation around.”

For more information on becoming a mentor, contact Graham Thomas by emailing him at graham@tnachieves.org or visit www.tnachives.org/mentors/apply.


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