Veronikha’s Story

Veronikha Salazar

What’s your current job? And, how has mentoring impacted your life (in?college, in the workplace, etc.)?

Director of Hispanic Outreach and Retention at Armstrong Atlantic State?University, Savannah, GA.

I always looked for mentors during my college career. During my graduate ?degrees, I was the only Hispanic in all of my classes throughout the 5 ?years it took to get my Master and Doctoral degrees; so, I longed to have a?mentor, and I wanted it to be Latino(a). I wanted to know how they had done ?(school, family, job). I wanted to know whether graduate degrees were worth?pursuing. I wanted only one mentor and found none of my ethnic group. I was? embraced instead by African Americans, a Filipino American and a Caucasian? couple.

I became closer to those mentors who were minorities as I was. They, in a?way, understood what I was going through. They could relate to the concerns ?and challenges I face on a daily basis. They became my cheerleaders. They ?became my role models and the hand I needed to hold mine and bring me to?the finish line. If it was not for the mentors I had during graduate? school, I would have never pursued a doctoral degree. They saw in me what I? didn’t see in myself. They knew my strengths and weaknesses more than I? knew them myself. They were the ones who took me to places and pushed me to? do things I would have never done otherwise. They were the ones who sent me ?back to my people to make a difference in their lives. Based on that?experience, I am a hard believer on (minority) students mentoring.

What specific things have you been helping your mentee(s) with and how has?this experience been for you?

I have been helping them with resources to look for scholarships. Setting ?up goals while in college, whether those are raising their GPA or deciding ?a major; whether being full time or part time students. Mostly, I have been ?encouraging to not give up but keep fighting. I think several of them, as ?first generation students, need cheerleaders and I have decided to be one.

I have enjoyed mentoring through this program. I can say exactly the words of? wisdom I was given by my mentors and now I get to pass them on to others. ?To know I am helping somebody navigate through life/college, makes my life ?richer somehow. Sometime we need somebody who has gone through this journey ?before or who is willing to go on this journey together to make this ?experience worthwhile. I am going and enjoying going on different journeys ?with every student I am mentoring ….that’s worthwhile!!

Why is mentoring important to you? To society as a whole?

It is important because we, as people and as a society need it. Mentoring ?is vital in our lives and in our society. Mentoring is important to me for ?this is a way I can give back to my community. We all need that somebody ?that will make us feel and let us know that we do matter to them as much as?to the world.

I believe this world would be much better off if every single person, ?student or not, female or male, Latino or African American, Mexican or ?European, Christian or Muslim, had a mentor in their lives. Our young? people, our society, need of those mentors who can lead by example, who can ?encourages us, who can motivate us, who can inspire us, who can be there ?for us, and those who can invest time and money. It’s an investment we can ?all make.