This week for National Mentoring Month, Oakland Serves mentor Andraus talked with our Program Coordinator, June Pangelinan. Andraus supports OUSD's academic recovery classes in history and Spanish.
Hi Andraus. With all that you’re doing, you find time to be a mentor! What motivated you to become a mentor?
I make it a point to make time because growing up, we didn’t really have mentors that came to the classroom. I probably didn’t get my first mentor until I was about 33 years old. Once I had taken on a mentor, he showed me the importance of channeling my life in the direction that it needs to go. What brought me to mentoring is if I had some of the information that I received in my 30s in my teenage years, things would have been a little different. Maybe I would have taken different avenues. I’m pretty proud of the direction I took and it built character. It made me who I am today. But I think some of the trial and error parts of my life would have been different if I would have had that mentor early on. Now I look back and I look at Oakland and I think about our young youth, specifically African American and Latinx, growing up and I see the lack of mentorship that goes on. I look at them and I see myself. If I can be someone who looks like them, that's a part of the classroom that’s trying to give them advice. Someone they can lean on to be that mentor.
That's your strategy for connecting, so what's the best part of mentoring for you?
The best part of mentoring is watching the young men and women understand the information and build confidence. I have one student that was trying to find different resources and I explained how Google scholar works and how to get more reliable sources. They get that experience and now they can confront their friends when they give them information about certain websites. I can just hear them talking “yeah that's not a reliable source”. I showed them and they can show others. That makes me feel good seeing the confidence.
So I want to move onto what is the hardest part about mentoring for you?
Outside of a scheduling conflict I think the hardest part is I need to tailor my approach to meet unique needs and the learning styles of each individual. Which means I have to be ready to switch it up. I have to be adaptable and just have an understanding of the group goals.
This is not the easiest volunteer role. I believe some of it has to do with the education system in this country. [It] was not built for Black and Brown students to succeed. Do you think there’s a role for you as a mentor to break down these racial barriers?
It’s more of an obligation for me to be a part of this and break down those barriers. What we get the misconception of is we go out and work and move on and never really understand the importance of education or maybe no one explains it to us. When I talk to these young students and I tell them, you may get off course, things may happen in your life, but you have to see it through. I’m focused on creating an inclusive environment and [emphasizing] the importance of education. Getting a higher education is about the sacrifices my ancestors made. If I think back two generations, my ancestors weren’t able to learn how to read. It was a crime to get an education. We had all these civil rights fought for us so we could get this education and now we’re not taking advantage of it because why? What is the purpose of not taking advantage of it? Having that diversity in education. Advocating for equitable opportunities for those that normally don’t get them. That’s my way of trying to break down these barriers and explain why it’s so important to have that education and knowledge. If nothing else, do it for the people that came before you. You stand on the shoulders of many.
I think you are a resource. You are an ally both in and outside of the classroom as well. We at Oakland Serves are so fortunate to have you as a mentor. Thank you so much.
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