Megan Wall, a college mentor with SWSG Duquesne University, shares with us how one girl impacted her understanding of what it means to be strong. 
Since I began my mentoring journey last fall, every single girl I’ve met has had a special place in my heart.  The strong girls I encounter as a mentor inspire me in ways they can’t even begin to imagine.  But of all of these amazing young ladies, there is one strong girl that always will have a special place in my memory: *Julianna.
During my first mentoring session at Sto-Rox Elementary School last spring, I met this remarkable strong girl.  Having mentored at another site the previous semester, many of the other girls were understandably boisterous with the addition of a new mentor, as well as the already familiar mentors’ return from Winter Break.
Julianna was an exception.  I remember how very quiet she was, sitting at her desk and engrossed in a book, unfazed by the commotion around her.
As the mentoring session began, she continued to read her book, seemingly uninterested and disengaged.  During Yums and Yucks, she was not keen to participate.  After some encouragement from the mentors, she finally did speak up, no louder than a whisper.  Quiet, bashful, and introspective, Julianna reminded me very much of myself at that age.
I was fairly surprised.  Never before had I encountered a mentee so introverted.  I had no idea how mentoring might affect her if she was truly as detached as she seemed.
I quickly realized that Julianna, although incredibly reserved, was not timid at all.  When given the chance to write in her journal, she blossomed, with entries that sometimes were full pages in length.  Her love of all things literate shined through in all she had to write.  The lessons taught each week at mentoring were making such an impact on her, as evidenced by her entries.  Julianna may not have been very talkative, but she certainly had so much to say!
As the semester progressed, Julianna began to open up more.  She began actively participating in Yums and Yucks, albeit still in her own soft-spoken tone, reading aloud while going over biographies, and writing even longer journal entries to me.  Seeing her transform and grow each week was astounding.  I was immensely proud.
Although I have since begun mentoring at another site, Julianna’s impact on me remains strong to this day.  More than anything, Julianna continues to remind me that strength is not measured in how loud we may speak or how strong we may appear to others.  Rather, the strongest individuals may often be the quietest, for it is not how loudly we may speak, but instead what we have to say and offer that truly shows how strong we are.

SWSG College Mentor - Megan Wall   
   Megan Wall is a college mentor with SWSG Duquesne University. 
[photo credit: The Brashear Association]
*Girl’s name has been changed to preserve confidentiality.