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Program celebrates ten years of mentorship

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
WACO, TX (KXXV) -

January is National Mentoring Month, and this year marks ten years since the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has been touching high school students' lives through their Leadership Education & Development (LEAD) program

The program connects local high schoolers with leaders in the Waco business and education communities. LEAD pairs students at Waco High School, Rapoport Academy, Harmony Science Academy, University High School, La Vega High School and Midway High School with mentors.

Rachel Martinez is the director of leadership and education development at the Waco Chamber, and she said the program celebrates 10 years of mentorship. She said the program is more than just spending time with the protege, and that they're also developing the kids into people who are workforce ready.

"We do that by taking them out on industry tours, [and] we also do a little bit of soft skill training," Martinez said. "We also do resume writing and interviewing skills, [we talk about] social media and how that can affect their employment in the future," she added.

Martinez said that of 300 of the students who've joined LEAD, have graduated high school and gone on to seek higher education.

Stephanie Maultby is a mentor in the program, and said the push to get students ready for higher education is one of the things that drew her to the program.

"I work in education and I'm a big supporter of education," Maultby said. "[Having] the opportunity to work with young people -- to inspire them into education -- to me, is one of the most worth-while causes we can have," she added.

Maultby mentors Alyssa Seybert, and Jenifer Fernandez. The girls are juniors at LaVega High School, and said they knew they had to take advantage of the opportunity to join LEAD.

"I got recommended for the program and it seemed like a great opportunity so i took a chance," Seybert said. "I really didn't know about a lot of the opportunities in the world, and this gave me a chance to see that. Now my mind is more open to what I want to do."

"I liked what it was and what they had told me about it, so I took a chance," Fernandez said. "I think it's going to help us in the future with our college stuff and guide us into what we want to be."

And all three, mentor and proteges, said being a part of this program is one they will not forget.

"I hope that I'm making a difference in their lives. What I can see is the difference that they're making in mine," Maultby said. "It's far surpassed any expectations that I had, and it's a program that I hope to continue with for many years."

"She's always there for us if we ever need help. I know she'll help us so we want to try our best," Fernandez said. "It's very important -- especially since we have the best mentor," she added.

"For me, she's like a second mom," Seybert said. "I think it's a major part in my life. If I were to recommend this to anybody -- I would say take the chance," she added.

The LEAD program is currently in six Central Texas schools, and there are175 proteges and 84 mentors in the program.

Martinez said that they hope to get involved in other schools, but that they do not have enough mentors to do so at this time. She said anyone interested in mentoring can contact her at (254) 757-5633.

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