Ricardo Arocha is beginning his second year as a mentor with the NCC Foundation. Mentors play an important role for Foundation scholars. Among students who receive our scholarships, 30% are the first in their family to attend college, and 48% do not have a parent who completed a bachelor’s degree. Ricardo shared why he dedicates time to being a mentor:
Why do you think mentoring is important?
Many studies show that successful adults often had a mentor growing up, who helped them navigate challenges. Someone who was not necessarily a part of their family—such as a teacher or a coach, whose guidance helped them. I can look back on my own life and see the impact of such mentors.
How does mentoring with an NCC Foundation scholar work?
The Foundation recommends meeting up at least once a month. My mentee and I get together about every two weeks, in person before the pandemic, and now by phone. I feel like you have to trust the process. I always tell my mentee—I just want to be helpful to you. So, we talk about anything that is top of mind that he wants to share, or get support for. Often, discussing something like organizational skills or time management can lead to a broader conversation about something like work/life balance, for example.
In your opinion, what is the value of mentoring community college students in particular?
I think it provides a critical boost for these students. Many community college students are starting at a perceived deficit, whether it is economically, or possibly in self-esteem. Some students come from families who recently immigrated to the U.S., and it is a completely new system to them. For these kinds of students, it is valuable to have a mentor outside of their family who can help them navigate the challenges they face.
What have you learned through the mentoring process?
Mentoring with the NCC Foundation has reiterated for me how valuable it is to have a thriving local institution in the community for learning. From mentoring one of the Foundation’s transfer scholars, I have seen that community college can be a pivotal bridge to a four-year degree, which further helps students and their families prosper. The Foundation’s work in providing scholarships and mentoring for students helps them overcome barriers and provides them with the resources they need to be successful.