Life and leadership: 'Berg biology students mentor middle schoolers

When three Heidelberg students realized the passion they had for mentoring their little siblings, they decided to spread that love and leadership outward. Anthony Patellis, Kiara Grow and Noah Stahl began their own mentorship program for middle school students in Tiffin’s “Tomorrow’s Leaders HEI.”  

The nonprofit organization aims to connect high-achieving students from Heidelberg with local middle-school students about once every three weeks to form impactful and meaningful mentorship bonds. Since the organization’s inception, they’ve gained a new member, Emma Keto. This group of students, all majoring in biology or biochemistry, are passionate about helping local kids and utilizing the college student perspective to make the future feel real to these youths. The initiative is entirely student-organized, student-run and student-motivated. Anthony explained:

“A few of us have siblings in the middle-school age range, and we all have found passion in being there for them and providing them with mentoring from personal experiences and lessons we have learned. We believe that kids are growing up in a world with dangers all around them. It is so easy to go down a bad path. Through our mentorship, we hope to provide these kids with the information and resources they need to make the right choices so they can continue to grow and have the brightest future possible.”

The organization utilizes four primary activities to help instill the values and lessons necessary for success in tomorrow’s leaders: skill-building, education sessions, career discovery and community service. 

In the skill-building aspect of the program, Heidelberg mentors teach these young students about leadership, organization and communication. In the education sessions, mentors share guidance about the hot topics that “tweens” are already coming face to face with – social media use, mental health management and study strategies. The mentors are working with the students and asking them questions to decide on the future topics that they’ll need to discuss next. The mentors, during Career Discovery time, show potential careers and occupations that students may not have known about. They’re teaching the kids to think backward from who they want to be, to figure out how to get there. The community service segment is deeply important to the group of mentors who organized the program, and they all view giving back to the community as a key to being a great leader. “Personally,” Anthony shared, “community service was a huge part of figuring out my career goal.” The group wants to provide the same opportunities they’ve had to the middle school students, so the kids can reap those benefits as well.

Thus far, the program has been successful and rewarding. “We have had a lot of support from many members of the Tiffin City Schools, and great feedback and support from faculty members here at Heidelberg,” the team agreed. Their first meeting was February 21, and the team felt well-equipped and excited to introduce themselves to the kids who would be looking up to them.

When thinking about the long-term impact of the organization and mentorship activities that the team has planned, they’re hopeful that they will provide the tools and skills that these students need to be successful individuals and leaders – hoping that the kids are able to pass on the information they’ve learned to their own friends and future mentees. 

Since the group has just begun, they are looking to grow the amount of support they have on their team. “We are looking for high-achieving and outstanding students from Heidelberg to join our team,” they said. “Our goal is not only to grow our organization, but to also positively impact the students of Tiffin Middle School for years to come.”

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