July 2017 TeamMates of the Month: Growing Together with TeamMates
“Why me? What’s wrong with me?” wondered Rachel when she was nominated to become a TeamMates mentee. Rachel was a freshman at Pius X High School when her teacher thought she would benefit from meeting weekly with a TeamMates mentor. “I just didn’t want to be singled out,” remembers Rachel.
Rachel was matched with Diane Carlson who first learned about TeamMates through her employer, Lincoln Benefit Life (now Allstate). Allstate, a long-time supporter of the TeamMates Mentoring Program, encourages its employees to mentor if they can. Diane decided to become a mentor because of her desire to help students succeed. “The opportunity to work with young people, see their potential and help them any way you can is very gratifying,” Diane says.
Diane and Rachel got to know each other by asking each other questions provided in the TeamMates handbook. It was a way to break the ice, start conversation, and discover they have a lot in common. “We’re both introverts,” explains Rachel. “I think she understands who I am and how things affect me.”
Knowing that Diane mentored two other students before, Rachel was confident that Diane would be a positive person to have in her corner. Because she could sense that Diane truly cared for her, Rachel found it easy to trust Diane and open up to her. “We just talk. I love hearing about her week, her ups and downs, and we’ll work through the little pieces,” Diane says. “I’ve seen her change so much since her freshman year with her self-confidence. We’ve come a long way.”
When Rachel asks Diane for advice, she appreciates Diane’s neutral, unbiased opinion. Diane helps Rachel look at situations from different perspectives and reminds her, “You cannot change people, you can only change yourself.” It’s a lesson Diane learned through her own experiences and is glad she can now help Rachel with some of the same issues she went through.
With Diane as her mentor, Rachel is learning not to let others affect her as much as they used to. “I can’t make somebody who I want them to be, but I can accept them for who they are, and make sure I am the right person for them, too,” she explains.
As Rachel begins her senior year at Pius, she is thinking of her future career. Since first grade, Rachel has wanted to open her own veterinary practice. She made sure her grades were up to par throughout high school and now is weighing her options on which university to attend. She even dreams of attending vet school in Scotland one day. Diane encourages and supports Rachel’s path every step of the way. “I love watching young people grow and achieve their dreams,” she says.
“I’ve grown a lot since freshman year. It’s made me see there are people I can trust out there and it’s really nice to have someone to talk to,” Rachel shares as she thinks back on her time with Diane. She feels fortunate to be a part of TeamMates and looks forward to her one-on-one time with Diane every week. “I appreciate the opportunity and don’t regret saying yes.”