Years after mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters in San Antonio, Jennifer Guzman decided to get re-involved with the mission of mentoring locally in Houston. With young kids and a busy career, she signed up for mentor2.0, our online-based one-to- one mentoring program, to allow for a more flexible mentoring schedule. Shortly after, Jennifer was matched with her KIPP Northeast mentee and name “twin”, Jennifer!
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I love working with teenagers! I had several mentors growing up and I’ll never forget the impact they
had on my life. I really believe everyone needs a mentor.
What are your favorite activities to do together?
We are in the mentor2.0 program so we meet at her school. We love sharing pictures of our dogs. We
both have dogs named Max and coincidentally they are both puppies! We share the stories of their
puppy shenanigans. Jennifer and I both love food (and seriously, who doesn’t?) so we love to also talk
about food. Another coincidence – we both eat avocado on our pizza ? The trick is to keep it cold. The
avocado is an after-it’s- baked topping ? Jennifer and I are both very close to our families so we talk about them often.
Describe the experience of being a mentor/Big:
I didn’t grow up with any siblings and my mom was a single mom so it’s wonderful to have a little sister I can talk to about “girl stuff” and all the fun things that come with being a girl. As a mom of 2 boys, a boy dog and a boy fish, I’m heavily outnumbered at my house. I really try not to stress about what wisdom I’m going to impart. I know at the end of the day, Jennifer, like most of us, just need someone who will listen, provide feedback, offer advice and share an experience. In the beginning of our mentor
relationship, I felt really pressured to say or do something revolutionary to change her life for the better.
I realized quickly that wasn’t my job. Her family, friends and teachers are very supportive. My job is to be there. In the moment. She has been the same for me. Jennifer is incredibly smart, mature and
ambitious. We all have our weak moments and I hope when she encounters those, she’ll come to me for support and guidance.
What is your favorite characteristic about your mentee?
Besides the fact that we share the same name, I love her energy and ambition! Jennifer is ready for the
world and I don’t think she will ever let anything or anyone stop her. She’s going to be great and successful at whatever she conquers in life. She has a strong “move forward” attitude.
What are some challenges your match has had to overcome?
Jennifer lives in a low-opportunity, highly economically disadvantaged area of the city. That comes a lot
of environmental challenges. Probably without even knowing it, she has overcome several. KIPP has
been a great resource to her as I know they've helped her navigate the college application process,
scholarship applications and that "move forward" attitude is engrained in the KIPP culture.
What do you feel you have gotten out of being a mentor?
So much! In a world where we are all running around crazy forgetting to take a moment to relax, it is
wonderful to have my "relax" scheduled on my calendar. Hearing about her day, her week, her classes, friends, grades and family is something I look forward to when we meet.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a mentor?
First of all, remember that YOU had a mentor growing up, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. If you have time to play a game on your phone or watch TV, you have time to mentor a young person.
mentor2.0 makes mentoring so doable for a busy professional. It's also a great way to meet other like- minded, community-oriented people.