DSF Mentorship Program Changes Lives by Connecting Alumni, Scholars

After a summer of planning and preparation, the Alumni Advisory Committee (AAC) of Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) is gearing up to kick off its Mentorship Program this fall. Now in its second year, the program empowers DSF Scholars and Alumni to grow professionally while inspiring them to contribute to the Denver community through individualized mentorship.

Participants in the 2018-19 DSF Mentorship Program play an icebreaker game at the program’s final event of the year.

Mentor and mentee pairs enjoy several large-group events over the course of their year-long commitment to the program. These events include mentorship development and community building workshops, as well as social gatherings. Pairs set their own meeting schedules and aim to check-in with each other about once a month. However, many pairs find that their meetings and check-ins happen more frequently, and organically, throughout the year.

We asked two participants of last year’s DSF Mentorship Program—Naiely Miranda, DSF Alumna and 2015 graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), and Jasmine Villalobos-Valles, DSF Alumna and 2019 graduate of MSU Denver—to reflect on their experience. At the start of last year’s program, Naiely and Jasmine immediately recognized common grounds, and each found a supporter and friend in the other.

Mentor Naiely Miranda, left, and mentee, Jasmine Villalobos-Valles, right, at the DSF Mentorship Program 2018-19 kickoff event

What interested you about the program, and why did you become involved?

Jasmine: I found out about the program through a networking night at MSU Denver. At the time, I was wrapping up my final year of college. For this reason, I knew I could benefit from a mentor who could help me navigate through job searching and establishing my life after college.

Naiely: A DSF staff member recruited me for the program, and I knew it would be a great opportunity to give back to DSF. I was fortunate to have mentors in college, and I wanted to have that same impact on another person’s life.

What interests and experiences do you have in common?

Naiely: Jasmine and I bonded over being first generation college students. From there, we clicked almost immediately. We discovered that we are both very driven, and focused on our careers instead of starting a family.

Jasmine: Because we share the same culture and similar backgrounds, I am able to look up to Naiely as someone who also questions established life roles and has broken the mold. Her experience in the field of human resources helped me grow my understanding of that path, and what it takes to be successful.

What did you learn through the Mentorship Program?

Jasmine: Through meeting with Naiely, I learned not to give up on myself, and that it is okay to wait for the right time for things to happen. She taught me how to learn as much as I can in my jobs in order to continue pursuing my dreams. I also learned to listen and to ask as many questions as possible. Above all, she helped me realize that I am not the only one who has experienced the stressful transition from college to career.

Naiely: In our meetings, I discovered that the parts of my life that seem the least “put together” are the parts that Jasmine could learn the most from. Personally, I used to think that a mentor was someone who had everything figured out already. However, as Jasmine and I got to know each other, sharing different parts of my life became very meaningful.

Naiely and Jasmine celebrate a successful year at the DSF Mentorship Program’s final 2018-19 event

How is the DSF Mentorship Program different from other mentorship programs you have participated in?

Naiely: The program is designed to set you up for a meaningful mentor/mentee relationship that goes below the surface. From the start, you can share your similar experiences as DSF Scholars. More than our shared career interests, we share cultural experiences—where we come from, our families, our values. Further, the program challenged me to support Jasmine in new ways, from reaching out to people in my network, to reflecting on my own experience in order to glean bits of guidance to share with her. For these reasons, the program is extremely rewarding.

Jasmine: Compared to some of my classmates in college, I had to overcome a few more challenges. Naiely understood that experience. When we connected, I started to learn things I did not previously know about myself. Her guidance helped me uncover new perspectives about my future and myself.

Are you a DSF Alum or current DSF Scholar seeking a meaningful mentorship experience? Apply for the 2019-20 DSF Mentorship Program online.