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  • Writer's pictureChloe Lewis

Meet our mentoring matches: Kelsey and Aisha

Each month, we'll be introducing you to one of our mentoring pairs, so you can hear more about The Catalyst Programme, in their own words.

This month, meet Kelsey and Aisha!

Aisha is a year 11 student at Eastside Young Leaders' Academy, our first ever partner school, and Kelsey is a civil servant.


Aisha: How has the pandemic impacted this year of school for you?

Covid has definitely changed this year. Year 11 is our last year of school, and from year 7 we’ve been thinking this will be the best year. But with Covid, the library is closed, school is closed, no prom, everything is gone or the aspects of school that were fun are all gone.

Has it helped to have a mentor?

Having a mentor has helped me with maintaining my social skills, has helped me continue to be aware of myself and also has helped me be aware of the responsibilities I have and be accountable for them. While my Mum knows about my mentor, it’s me who has to be responsible for coming to my sessions on time and prepared and that’s the type of practicing of accountability which will help me in college.

Kelsey: Is volunteering a part of your normal routine? How does volunteering with the Catalyst support your passions or interests?

I used to do a lot of volunteering, and then between a busy job and some caring responsibilities took a large chunk of time out from volunteering. When I had more time on my hands again to start volunteering, I found it really difficult to find projects I genuinely cared about where I could actually add value. Catalyst is extremely specific and I think that's it’s major value add. It caters to and for Black women, its a for us by us moment. Many of the mentors have probably often been the only Black woman on their team or possibly even in their company, I know I have, and so to be able to guide the next generation of those Black women, so they know what the reality of the workplace might present to them is really important to me. I think volunteering is great generally, but when you can bring something of value which not many other people can, that’s when you find a fit which can be truly mutually beneficial.

Kelsey: Speaking of mentoring being mutually beneficial, what are you gaining or learning from having a mentee?

Aisha has taught me a lot about myself since joining the programme. We started off by doing a personality test together. It was Aisha’s first time and maybe my 6th time? But it was interesting to see my results had changed since the last time I’d done it and it was especially interesting to do the test with Aisha and speak about what we related to and what we didn’t together. That aside I think generally, as a single professional woman with no children, I curate friends and contacts which reflect experiences similar to my own. So spending time with Aisha, has just taught me to be a little bit less uptight and remember that I’m still young and there is plenty of joy to be had in life.

What have you found surprising about taking part in mentoring?

Kelsey: To be honest, I really don’t like kids, and so the idea of hanging out with a young person in Year 11 was not thrilling to me. I thought they would think I am boring and uncool and we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. Meeting and working with Aisha has been such a gift, we’ve got along so easily, she reassures me I’m not that uncool and its such a change from my day to day to hear about what is going on with her in school and helping to talk her through all the options she has for what she wants to do with the rest of her life. It’s genuinely a privilege.

Aisha: At first I thought it would be boring, “mentor” sounds like a responsibility. But it’s more fun and enjoyable then I thought and it’s quite social. Being able to talk freely and not have to worry about what you are saying, its a very different dynamic to a teacher and a student, its much more casual and social.

And finally, Aisha - what advice would you give to someone in the year below you considering having a Catalyst mentor?

Have fun with the opportunity and really make the most of it. It’s important to be accountable and responsible but also to have fun and enjoy your life. Just take advantage of any opportunity which has been given to you.


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