Meet Denver Kids mentor, Tatiana! She has been matched with her mentee, Isa, for about six months. Tatiana was recently recognized as one of Next Gen Collective's 30 Under 30, and we had the honor of conducting a Q&A with her recently. Learn more about Tatiana and her Denver Kids mentee, below!
What inspired you to become a mentor with Denver Kids?
Much of my own success thus far is thanks to mentors in my own life. I can look back and point to very specific moments in my life, where I made decisions, critical ones, that changed the course of my life and career, all because a mentor showed me I could have different options in my life, or helped me recognize my own potential.
Prior to becoming a mentor with Denver Kids, I had been a mentor in another program in New York City called Streetwise Partners. After moving to Denver, I knew I wanted to find a similar program where I could dedicate time to one individual and give them all I had to offer.
Tell us about your mentee. What do you two like to do together?
My mentee and I have been paired for six months, though truly it feels like we've been paired for much longer. From the beginning, my mentee and I bonded on a deep level. I'd like to believe that it has something to do with our shared Latinx culture and upbringing.
She is an 8th grader and she is one of the most curious, kind, considerate, artistic, and brilliant people I've met. Once comfortable, she engages in dynamic conversations, and appreciates art. In fact, we spend much of our time going to museums and poetry readings, especially when the artists are BIPOC.
What have you learned through being a mentor?
Of the most important and universal lessons I've taken from not just this mentoring experience, but all others as well, is the lesson in showing up authentically. Specifically with Denver Kids, I know my mentee is paying attention to how I show up with her, for her, and in the world.
I know that when I show up as myself, in all the ways that make me who I am—playfully, curiously, patiently, confidently—I am showing my mentee that it's safe for her to do the same. In fact, as important as it is to show up in all the more positive ways, I think it is even more important to show my mentee that it is okay to have difficult days and to be tired or stressed, and demonstrate how I might help myself feel better. I believe it's important to normalize showing up as we are rather than hiding parts of ourselves or how we are feeling.
How does your mentee inspire you?
My mentee inspires me to embrace my Latinidad even more. At home, my mentee seamlessly changes between speaking English and Spanish, something that I have been working on myself. So, being able to witness her confidence and love for her roots and upbringing, inspires me to do the same in my personal and professional life.
Why do you believe mentoring is important?
Mentoring is the cornerstone to opportunity in life. For people with privilege, whether that's privilege based on race, skin color, socio-economic status, or citizenship-status, access to mentors and people who can provide guidance, and life and career advice is hardly an issue. In fact, it's likely embedded into the social structure already. For others who don't have the same access to life and career guidance, the opportunities are limited, and not because they don't exist, but rather because there isn't awareness about the opportunities that do exist.
I myself have benefited immensely, in life and career, from having mentors who helped me navigate the life choices ahead of me and helped me tap into my passion. But these were not formalized mentoring programs, and I probably would have missed out on some of them had I not been in the right place, at the right time. This is why I believe that mentoring, especially formalized mentoring programs, like Denver Kids and so many others, that intentionally work to expand access to individuals who wouldn't otherwise have it are necessary.