Mentorship program supporting students from racialized communities launched at John Abbott College

Employees, students and special guests gathered at John Abbott College (JAC) on November 20, 2023, for the opening ceremony of the newly created mentorship program SOAR (Success through Opportunities and Representation).

The program, brought to life with the support of a Bell Let’s Talk grant awarded to the College at the beginning of 2023, aims at supporting students from racialized communities through mentorship. Students are paired with a mentor, who is also from a racialized community, from outside the College. Mentors provide the mentees with support and guidance unique to their own experiences.

As a Counselling team we are immensely grateful to our group of mentors for their compassion and generosity, and for their keen interest to support our racialized students. Many of them have commented on how they wish a similar program had existed when they were students. We are thrilled to see how SOAR has materialized through the support of Bell Let’s Talk, and in consultation with Khan Bouba-Dalambaye and the students themselves.
– Meaghan Blake, Chairperson – Psychological and Career Counselling, John Abbott College

The goal of the program is to encourage and assist students to tap into their own unique strengths so they can thrive. Mentees hope to gain a newfound engagement in education, a sense of belonging to the school, and a commitment to learning. Mentors will help mentees establish goals and prioritize their next steps in navigating post-secondary life and barriers they may face. In the end, mentees hope to gain confidence in their identity and capacity to thrive.

My goal as a mentor is to provide support, guidance, and a listening ear to BIPOC students. Throughout my academic and personal journey, I’ve been fortunate to have mentors with whom I got to build meaningful relationships, and I hope to do the same. I truly believe that by working together, we can navigate challenges, celebrate achievements, and work toward a future where every student can succeed. Let’s SOAR together!
-Shreya Udupa, SOAR mentor, JAC alumna and current McGill Medical student

It is a privilege for me to be a part of the first class of mentors for John Abbott’s new SOAR program. I look forward to providing career and life advice to my mentee, but more importantly being someone that can listen and support them on their journey.
-Kamil Thompson-Hutchinson, SOAR mentor, JAC alumnus, Account Executive for TEKsystems

The program is in full motion with 13 mentors and mentees matched and working together. The focus now is on building momentum for the program and matching more mentors/mentees for the next semesters to come.

SOAR is a program that opens doors by providing opportunities and guidance to racialized students who may not see themselves represented in different jobs, careers, or fields. It is a new beginning and an opportunity to access doors that have been usually closed. This is a hand up, not a handout.
-Sheldon Lewis & Sharon Mahbeer, Social Work Technicians – Counselling, John Abbott College

On picture – from left to right: Sheldon Lewis (Social Work Technician, Counselling, JAC), Patricia Paul (SOAR Mentor), Chloe Nzigamabaso (SOAR mentee), Mayar Abbasi (SOAR Mentor), Marjolaine Lachance (Senior Manager, Community Investment-Communications, Bell Canada), Christian Diaz (SOAR Mentor)

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