Mentoring Matters: Cayden & Alana’s Story

Alana and Cayden are one example of how mentoring truly matters.

The first time Alana asked Cayden to look in the mirror and name three things she liked about herself, she couldn’t name one. Just one year later, she can name more than three. She’s thriving in STEM at Kearns Academy of Computer and Information Science and is more confident than ever. And it’s all thanks to the power of mentorship.

“I don’t know where I’d be without my mentor, Ms. Alana,” said Cayden.

Alana, founder of I Am A Queen, launched the nonprofit at just 23 years old after recognizing the need for a mentor in her own life. The organization is a member of United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Mentoring Matters initiative that works to increase the number of mentors and improve the effectiveness of mentoring programs in the Greater Greensboro area. United Way supports mentoring because young people who have additional positive, caring adults in their lives as mentors are more likely to overcome and avoid poverty.

“When I was abused as a child, I didn’t have an adult to turn to. I knew I needed to create a safe space for young girls in my community to express themselves and grow into their full potential. 12 years later, I Am A Queen is impacting lives like I only imagined it would,” said Alana.

According to Alana and Cayden both, Cayden’s growth in the last year through mentorship and volunteerism has been nothing short of amazing.

“When I first met Cayden, she was extremely shy. She sat in the back of the room. Cayden is so much more confident now. She is an awesome public speaker. She’s giving back to her community,” said Alana. “Cayden has awesome parents who support her so much. Having the extra boost of a mentor helped her to shine.”

The data supports this too. According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, having a mentor is linked to improved academic, social, and economic prospects. 

Young adults with mentors are:

  • 55% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly
  • And 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.

Cayden thinks everyone should have a mentor. “Some of my friends would benefit from having a mentor—everyone would! You can get off track about what’s important, but your mentor is there to help you be your best self, bring out your strengths, and help you work on your areas of improvement. You need someone in your life that will help push you and my mentor has always done that for me,” said Cayden.

Outside of the classroom, Cayden believes that serving her community is her responsibility. When asked why she volunteers, Cayden said, “It’s a given.” She’s participated in all three of I Am A Queen’s big community service events— Winter Drive for the Homeless, Back to School, and Christmas Adoption—along with other community volunteer opportunities. Looking to 2021, Cayden will even be volunteering to teach a STEM workshop for I Am A Queen participants.

Mentors like Alana help keep students in school, improve self-esteem, and set career goals and take steps to realize them. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset. Right now, there are children in our community waiting for someone like you to listen, guide and share your life experience with them. Click here to learn more about how to become a mentor.

Read More