Six professional women of color, friends of the Essex County (NJ) Chapter of The Links, Inc., hosted a Mentoring Workshop, for 45 female students at West Side Campus (WSC) on March 24th. The women (Ms. Monica Elmore, Ms. Deborah Enix-Ross, Ms. Hazel Estwick-Hurley, Ms. Tara Favors, Ms. Erica Brown Oliver and Ms. Faith Taylor) have successfully managed their careers, families, and life.  In visiting with female students, in grades nine through twelve, they shared their personal experiences and covered topics relating to career development, college preparation and life skills.  

“We welcome those who can commit to long-term mentoring.  We want our students to see the same faces and make valuable connections", Ms. Beatrice Pierre, Director of Acceleration Academy and Student Support Services, WSC, conveyed.  “This was an amazing program.  It’s great to partner with this group, as they are ready and willing to change the conversation with our girls.  I am looking forward to continuing the series and I am excited about the potential”.

The group of women have backgrounds ranging from law to business development and education.  The students came to learn about these professions, as well as, key life skills that have helped them to succeed. The Mentoring Workshop was setup roundtable-style, allowing students more intimate one-on-one discussions.  Students in groups of six rotated from table to table, every 15 minutes, to have interactive discussion on the topics: “The Best Way to Prepare For and Be Successful In Finding A Job”, “Finding Your Passion and Going For It”, “How To Pay For College With Limited Resources”, “Dress For Success”, “How To Organize and Manage Your Time and The Tradeoffs You Need To Make” and “Maintaining a Healthy Body and Mind”.  

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Ms. Tracee Thomas, Dream Director, The Future Project, WSC, expressed to the students, “These women are great role models and mentors. To succeed in life, it is important to have a mentor.  And, guess what?  These women all have mentors.”  Mid-way through the program, Ms. Pierre had the students Snapchat pictures with the mentors, along with the tag #westsidementoring.  Ms. Fatima Salaam, Community Engagement Specialist, WSC, and Ms. Ayesha Cross, Partnership and Senior Transitional Coordinator, WSC, also participated during the program.

At the end of the Mentoring Workshop, students were given a Certificate of Completion, as well as, handouts and materials for future reference.  Students left the workshop acknowledging that they learned the importance of eye contact, speaking up, following their dreams, scholarships and ways to pay for college, managing their time and staying fit. 

Principal Larry Ramkissoon stated, “Our students experience several obstacles, ranging from unstable households, gang related activities, and poverty, in their lives.  Having positive relationships between our students and a caring adult will help guide and encourage our students through their social and academic challenges.  In order to accomplish this goal, we have partnered with these phenomenal women”.

The women will continue to build their relationship with West Side Campus and will host more workshops on other topics in the months to come.

About West Side Campus  – Two Schools, One Identity

West Side Campus – Two Schools, One Identity.  Newark Early College (NEC) and Newark Vocational High School (NVO).  Acceleration Academy – program in the school building for the students of NEC and NVO, who are over-aged and under credited.  Enrollment is approximately 700 students, grades 9-12.   http://www.nps.k12.nj.us/wsd/our-school/vision-and-mission/

About The Links, Incorporated

The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of nearly 14,000 professional women of color in 284 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. For more information visit http://www.linksinc.org/.