Mount Holyoke students wishing to hone their leadership skills and work with some of the brightest and most highly motivated female high school students in the country are invited to apply to become mentors in the College's Take the Lead program. Take the Lead will bring a select group of high school juniors to campus for a four-day leadership conference September 27-30. Now entering its eighth year, the conference includes workshops, activities, and guest speakers.
Mount Holyoke leadership mentors benefit from the experience as much as the high school students do. According to Take the Lead founding director Patricia VandenBerg, MHC's executive director of communications and strategic initiatives, "High school participants always comment that having an MHC mentor is one of the best things about the program. The mentors, in turn, say working with the participants gives them hope and inspiration. It's synergistic. All of us lucky enough to be involved benefit."
Lindsey Whitmore '07, who served as a mentor last year, recalled her experience: "Participating as a Take the Lead mentor was an incredibly motivating process. When mentors and Take the Lead students worked together on projects, the energy and idealism in the room was always at its height. From welcoming my student at Mount Holyoke for the first time to working through some of the smaller details of her project, I enjoyed having fun while also exploring our shared commitment to social change. My experience as a mentor renewed my faith in the possibilities of leadership and activism."
After receiving special training, each mentor will be paired with one of the high school students based on shared interests. As part of the conference, mentors will host Take the Lead students in their residence halls and accompany them to some of their scheduled activities. During the conference, each Take the Lead student will develop a project that addresses an issue of particular concern to her. Past projects have involved creating and coteaching a diversity class for high school students, organizing a weeklong camp for children who witness domestic violence, and raising $26,000 for women-owned businesses in Ghana.
Mentors will work one-on-one with the students to develop projects and planning strategies. After the conference, many will keep in touch with their students, continuing their supportive relationship via email. All mentors will receive $100. Rosita Nunez, associate director of Take the Lead, said, "It is spectacular to see passionate young women making a difference in the world, and knowing our future is in their hands gives us hope."
All MHC students who will be on campus next fall and are committed to developing their own leadership skills and those of others are invited to apply to become a Take the Lead mentor. Applications are due by March 7. Applications are available online, and students are strongly encouraged to use this convenient method (see link below). Applications are also available and may be handed in at the SAW office in Porter Hall 121. Interviews will be held in mid-March. Students will be notified whether they have been selected for the program by early April. Fifteen alternates will also be chosen.