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  • Writer's pictureChloe Lewis

Meet our mentoring matches: Lateesha and Jessica

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 Lateesha and Jessica!

Jessica has just finished year 11, and attends Eastside Young Leaders' Academy. Lateesha is a final year PhD student, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant.


Jessica, thinking back to the beginning of the year, what were some of the areas you wanted to develop in?

At first, I didn’t have any concrete goals, but I knew I wanted to strengthen areas that were related to confidence, self-discovery, interview prep and learning more about the culture of academia and sixth form. All these things at the time aligned with what I felt I needed the most work on and were what were important to me, so my mentor helped me create SMART goals to meet them.

And how have these things changed through the year? How has your mentor been involved with this growth?

Many of my goals were met, especially those linked with getting ready for sixth form and developing my confidence. Even when my goals were met, my mentor graciously challenged me. For example, when working with college interview preparations, Lateesha would ask me questions on the spot, then from those questions would branch out onto similar topics. Not only did she help me with my goals, but she did so in a way where every session all goals were being worked towards at the same time. Having a mentor with The Catalyst was an amazing advantage! They understand how to cultivate sessions where in each moment you’re being stretched and challenged.

Lateesha, amongst the busyness of this year - working and completing a PhD, how have you continued to make time for mentoring, and why is this something you’re prioritising?

Mentoring has been a priority because my mentee and I created a long-term plan with goals that we wanted to build towards. Each month it has been great to see the progress we have made, and this helped keep us really motivated. It really helps to agree to a monthly meeting as this can be scheduled well in advance, and for myself and my mentee we chose the same week every month and slotted those in early. Our approach then was to have some flexibility because life happens, but for the most part our meetings have stayed the same.

What have you learned from working with your mentee this year?

I have learned that the mentoring process can be really fun and rewarding! Supporting a young person can be as simple as listening and empathising, it really is simpler than you think. There are a lot of connections and similarities between where they are and where you were at their age so you will know what to say to help them along their way.

Jessica: We’ve just completed our mentor recruitment for next year’s matches. What advice would you give to these future mentors who are just getting started? What made you decide to take part in the Catalyst?

Jessica: Essentially, what made me decide to take part was my need for change. I came to the realisation that my education and my personal life was all my responsibility and as a result, I sent my application in to have a supportive mentor figure who had far more experience than me to provide guidance, motivation and setting goals.

Lateesha: Throughout my life, I have benefitted from having trailblazing mentors, and I knew that when I was in a position to support young Black women, I would. I really wanted to pay it forward! Meeting Chloe and hearing more about her approach to mentoring and her vision for Catalyst, I was sold straight away. She brings fresh energy to the mentoring space and so it was a no-brainer to mentor through the Catalyst programme.

Any wise words for next year's mentors?

When I first was matched with my mentee, I thought I would have to know everything and have all the answers and that honestly hasn’t been the case. So, my advice is to remember that you don’t have to have all the answers! Your mentees will just appreciate having someone to talk to who listens and supports.

And finally, what is something memorable from your year of mentoring?

Jessica: One particular moment from my year of mentoring that I will never forget is when I had just been assigned to Lateesha as a mentor. It was a new relationship so we had to start by finding common ground. Lateesha suggested that we take a personality test and funnily enough it turns out we had a similar personality type. It was a fun activity that definitely broke the ice and created more of a safe space for the both of us.

Lateesha: I was going to say exactly the same thing! During our first session, we took a personality test and got the exact same result! It was a funny moment that allowed us to relate to and understand each other and meant that we build trust from the very beginning.

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