Harvard University student, Rosa, shares with us the power of volunteering with Strong Women, Strong Girls through her personal Peaks & Valleys as a SWSG College Mentor. 
This is my third semester mentoring with Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) and my second at the Red Oak site in Chinatown. I still remember my first Training Day, the first time I really felt excited for the program and for my role as a mentor; learning more about SWSG from the speakers and presentations, and seeing all the other women there so excited to return to their sites and their girls made me feel very exhilarated and empowered.
I started mentoring at Red Oak this past Fall. My time as a mentor with Red Oak has not been smooth but still incredible nonetheless. I remember I was most frustrated with mentoring last semester when it seemed like the mission of one of our girls was simply to thwart that of SWSG – every positive remark we had about mentoring, college and education, community was met with an equally cynical, and exceptionally vocal, rebuttal from her – and the other girls were clearing hearing her message. But my co-mentors and I did not want to give up on her, simply because we realized that her background – her life at home and with her family and her previous experiences – had truly not only jaded her but hardened her deeply. We wished she could’ve gotten more out of programming, but sometimes, when the girls don’t want to receive your guidance or your messages, there really is only so much we could do on our part without compromising the goal of our mentoring session or without making the other girls in our program feel neglected. It is indeed frustrating to see that we can’t help all the girls we encounter.
On the flip side, one of our rowdiest girls is this little fourth grader who has also seen troubled times at home and at school with her peers. She is vocal and thrives on attention – and knows how to get it, crocodile tears and all. But, she is also the biggest fan of the program. She loves coming to mentoring, and loves sharing stories about her day, and contributing to discussion and activities. Being able to see our girls grow throughout their time with us is also a great plus as well. Seeing some of our shyest girls find a voice and contribute their opinions when they would not have a semester ago is a great sight. Peaks and valleys is my favorite part of mentoring, not only in that it is one of the first moments we get to see the girls again, but also because so many of our girls cite being at Strong Women, Strong Girls as their peak of the week program after program. It is really nice to know that as nice as it is for us to get away from campus and be able to be here with the girls, they also really value our time with them as well.
Mentoring at SWSG has allowed me to grow not only as a mentor but also as an individual and a leader in general, especially as I’ve come into my position as Site Leader. Mentoring has required me to be extra careful in an administrative capacity, tested my patience time and again, and pushed me to think on my toes, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way, as cheesy as it sounds. Okay, that’s not true – some Fridays I’d definitely prefer my girls to be complete angels when they are plucking books off bookshelves as we are trying to teach them the bios, but at the end of the day, I always walk away ready – and wanting – to do it all over again the following week.

Strong Women, Strong GirlsRosa is a junior at Harvard University studying sociology and economics.  She finds that the two times she is able to leave the Harvard bubble are when she is off mentoring with the Red Oak site in Chinatown and when she is interning at Argopoint, a legal consulting firm in Beacon Hill.