Volunteers are the foundation of our chapter’s success. Throughout their three-year journey with Minds Matter, our students receive not only rigorous academic preparation but also meaningful mentorship support to further help them develop college readiness mindset and professional skills for young adulthood.
Our mentor volunteers come from all walks of life. They are early- and mid-career professionals, who are inspired by our mission and are driven by the desire to give back to the Cleveland community, working together to bring out the best versions of our students despite their vastly different upbringings.
At Minds Matter Cleveland, we believe that mentorship should be celebrated beyond National Mentoring Month. This is why we’re thrilled to kick off the Senior Mentor Series, where we invite you to get to know our senior mentors and learn more of their untold stories. Today, let’s meet Chris Sledzik!
Chris Sledzik, Digital & Content Strategist at Geometry Global
Where are you from?
I am originally from Akron, OH and am currently a resident of downtown Cleveland.
How did you learn about Minds Matter Cleveland?
A friend introduced me to Minds Matter when I was looking for ways to stay connected with Cleveland through volunteering and truly giving back to the community.
How long have you been a volunteer?
Do you volunteer with any other organizations?
I’m slightly involved with other local groups and organizations, but I feel most connected to Minds Matter Cleveland’s core mission.
What do you like most about Minds Matter Cleveland?
You can see the real difference you make in a student’s life simply by showing up to Saturday sessions. When I attended my first session and met my former co-mentor, a lawyer with City of Cleveland, I was very pleased to meet a fellow young professional with the same passion to help Cleveland become a better place by investing in our students.
Who are your mentees?
Jay’da (Cleveland Central Catholic) and Zephaniah (Cleveland Early College High School), whom I share with my co-mentor Andrew Aisen.
What is/are the most rewarding part(s) of your mentoring experience?
Seeing Zephaniah deliver her speech at this past year 4th annual gala! I take very little credit in the pre-gala preparation, but helping her get comfortable with speaking in front of a professional crowd and actually witnessing her do so naturally with her outgoing personality, it was a very special moment to me.
Overall, observing my mentees transition from their junior to senior year, and now they are ready to step into young adulthood, feels very rewarding as well. I’m a little sad thinking about what it look like after this [graduation], but also feel very proud to see Jay’da and Zephaniah taking on the next chapter of their lives.
What surprised you the most about your mentees?
They have very different personalities! *chuckle* When I first met Jay’da, she was very shy, whereas Zephaniah was effortlessly outgoing. Seeing those two polar opposite persona come together and somehow they work it out with each other, it just feels great! Also, I’m very impressed and amazed by their resilience to overcome academic and life challenges.
How has Minds Matter Cleveland impacted your life?
My mentees opened up my eyes on the community’s diversity and needs. I went to a high school with less than 5% of minority representatives. Thanks to Minds Matter, I now have a better understanding of the challenges that inner city students have to face to gain academic success, as well as the important need to give back to our community.
What does the future look like for your mentorship with the students and your involvement with Minds Matter Cleveland after graduation?
It’s going to be on us to keep our relationship going. I plan on using social media to stay connected and hope to constantly check in on Jay’da and Zephaniah. I’d like to continue helping them grow with academic-related matters and professional development.
As for Minds Matter Cleveland, it all depends on current life commitment by the time my mentees graduate. I want to continue staying involved with the organization on a different scale that is yet to be determined.