Ashley Stephens, Credit Associate at KeyBank
Where are you from?
I’m from Bronx, NY. Work brought me to Cleveland in 2014!
How did you learn about Minds Matter Cleveland?
When I first moved to Cleveland, KeyBank had weekly e-mail blasts about volunteer opportunities in the area and Minds Matter was among organizations that Key supported. I’ve always had a passion for helping students, plus I always wish that I had a mentor in high school! So I wanted to get involved.
How long have you been a volunteer?
Since summer of 2014. I’ve been both a mentor and an Executive Team member.
What do you like most about Minds Matter Cleveland?
The established relationship that I have with my mentee has to be my favorite thing about Minds Matter Cleveland. It definitely motivates me to stay committed and become more involved with the organization on a long term basis.
Also, as a VP of Summer Programs, I can witness and contribute directly to the students’ progress and the experience that they can gain from attending our summer programs. From the beginning, perhaps they would have no idea where to go. Then they end up on university campuses like Stanford and Harvard. At the end of the summer, we see these students grow, overcome obstacles presented to them during the program, and learn a whole lot! The exposure to such experiences would not be possible without Minds Matter, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
I’m also glad to have the networking opportunities with other young professionals in Cleveland.
Who is your mentee?
My mentee’s name is Sha’ and she goes to John Hay High School.
What is/are the most rewarding part(s) of your mentoring experience?
I love coming into weekly Saturday sessions to be there for Sha’ and help her grow. It makes me feel like a big sister.
Around the holidays last year, I helped her focusing on applying to 10 colleges with strong focus and programs for the medical industry based on her interest and needs, that included University of Michigan and John Hopkins! She is now on top of everything!
What surprised you the most about your mentees?
When we first started, my mentee was very quiet. Seeing how much more independent and confident she has become ever since makes me feel very proud of her.
How has Minds Matter Cleveland impacted your life?
I did not have a sister growing up, so I tried to relate and reflect what having a big sister would probably feel like onto my mentee. Now I know her family.
Thanks to my mentorship experience, I feel more accountable knowing that there are other people relying on me. I have the ability to go above and beyond in my professional development, and have also learned to grow deep relationships.
What does the future look like for your mentorship with the students and your involvement with Minds Matter Cleveland after graduation?
I absolutely plan on staying in touch with Sha’ at least via monthly check ins. This especially goes of her college freshman year since she is a first-generation college student. I want to continue helping her identify resources to navigate through that first year and will try to connect over breaks as well.