Become a mentor, make a difference in a student’s life

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The Roane Alliance is recruiting mentors for RoaneAchieves to fill the critical role in helping graduates from the five Roane County high schools transition from high school to college.

A RoaneAchieves mentor can be the person who makes a major difference in a student’s life — whether he receives a scholarship and goes to college.

“With almost 60 percent of the students in the program last year being first-generation college students, the support and guidance mentors provide are important and fill a family experience void,” said Allen Lutz, education and workforce development specialist for the Roane Alliance.

“The majority of the students also come from low-income families.”

RoaneAchieves is part of the tnAchieves scholarship program, which provided almost $100,000 in financial aid to 2012 graduates of Roane County high schools who attended a community college.

In the first year that tnAchieves served Roane County students, 60 percent of the 104 students participating in the scholarship program were first-generation college students in their families.

For these students, their RoaneAchieves mentor made a significant difference in their successful transition to college.

“RoaneAchieves and tnAchieves are programs that boost the quality of our workforce, helping both individuals and our community be successful,” said Leslie Henderson, president and CEO of The Roane Alliance.

“In many ways, unemployment in our country has more to do with the fact that our workforce lacks the post-secondary education skills needed by our 21st century high-tech economy,” she added. “We must address this skills gap — and quickly — or we will be left in the dust as large employers go elsewhere to set up shop.”

Mentors make an important impact on the personal success of their students and the economic success of the community.

While the guidance a mentor provides to their students is important and valuable, fulfilling the role of a mentor is not too difficult.

Mentors may choose one of the five Roane County high schools from which their students will graduate.

A mentor is assigned four or five students to encourage through the college-going process, and attends two 45-minute meetings with the students in January and March.

Previous mentors report that they spend about one hour per month working with their students, reminding them of important deadlines by contacting them via text or email at least every two weeks.

 “This year, we expect to have almost 250 seniors apply for the program,” Lutz said. “That means we need more than 50 mentors.”

He added, “Every mentor receives the necessary training so he or she will feel confident in their ability to be a successful mentor for their students. We want the students and the mentors to be successful.”

In addition to training, mentors receive a handbook and consistent guidance from tnAchieves, and a support liaison from RoaneAchieves.

To apply to become a mentor, visit http://goo.gl/Lfb3z8.

Contact Lutz at 376-2093 or alutz@roanealliance.org for more details.

The Roane Alliance is Roane County's economic development organization and consists of both public and private organizations, including the Roane County Chamber of Commerce, the Roane County Industrial Development Board, and the Roane County Visitors’ Bureau.