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What it takes to create, develop, & maintain a successful mentor-scholar relationship

For two years, Marla Jackson and Paisley Brown have continued to grow and reach milestones together. PEAK staff sat down with the duo to find out what makes their mentor-scholar relationship special. From regular conversation to office visits, we learned tips from some of PEAK's best on how to elevate these unique relationships. Read the interview below and find out best practices for bonding with your scholar.

PEAK: How would you describe your relationship with Marla?

Paisley: Marla's my adult friend. I can always go to her when I need advice. I can ask her anything, even like....what do I wear. We talk and have a connection.

PEAK: What did Marla do initially to foster that relationship?

Paisley: Right away, she asked me questions about myself, like...about my hobbies, what do you do in your spare time? I love drawing. So, we discussed that and she made a plan to take me to an art museum because she knew I connected with that. I feel like she really listens. She takes things that I don't even remember saying and integrates them into our relationship.

PEAK: What is a specific value Marla has instilled in you?

Paisley: There are two things. If I want something done, I have to do it myself. And, remember to be grateful for what I have and proud of my accomplishments, don't worry about what others have.

PEAK: Has Marla helped shape your future plans?

Paisley: Going to her office and seeing what she does, opened my eyes to what I can accomplish. It helped me broaden my horizons. Her job is an inspiration. She studied to be a dentist, but is doing something completely different. I really respect her for that. And, in telling me that, it helped me see so many more career options than I ever imagined.

PEAK: What do you admire most about Marla?

Paisley: She's disciplined. When I call her, and I'm not sure what to do, or how to prioritize something, she tells me the best strategy for success. It goes back to what I said earlier, she always tell me, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. I want to be more like her. She's active, always doing something...not just sitting at home.

PEAK: What changes have you observed in Paisley since your first meeting at Match Night? Any academic progress, personal development, or noteworthy achievements you think PEAK should celebrate?

Marla: I have seen growth and development in Paisley since our first meeting at Match Night. Her self confidence has grown and she's a better communicator.

PEAK: What is your fondest memory of Paisley?

Marla: My fondest memory is when she had the opportunity to visit my office. She had a chance to watch a panel discussion on Women in Leadership with me and some of my colleagues. Her takeaway was what one of my colleagues shared about her growth in the area of becoming comfortable in having her voice heard.

PEAK: What do you admire most about Paisley?

Marla: I admire her tenacity. She has set goals for herself and is very determined to reach them.

PEAK: How has your mentorship relationship evolved from freshman to sophomore year? Have there been any notable shifts in your dynamics or the way you support each other?

Marla: It is a relationship that both of us are committed to. I believe Paisley knows that I am here for her and that she can reach out to me for support whenever she needs it.

PEAK: Does Paisley inspire you in your day-to-day life or long-term goals? Are there any specific instances or insights that have left a lasting impact on you?

Marla: I am always mindful of including her in opportunities that may arise. I think of her when I hear of opportunities related to college readiness, career preparation or cultural experiences.

PEAK: Can you share some of the strategies or actions you've employed to build and maintain Paisley's trust in your partnership?

Marla: My strategy has been to make sure Paisley knows that I'm a trusted adult in her life. I want her to always feel comfortable sharing her thoughts and ideas with me. I am here to support her and help her to set and achieve her goals.

PEAK: What is one valuable lesson about mentorship that you've learned from your mentorship of Paisley that you would like to pass on to others?

Marla: I would challenge all mentors to live up to the commitments they've made to their scholars. They value the relationships with us and it means a lot to them for us to engage with them.

PEAK: Lastly, as you approach your third year as a mentor, what are you looking forward to the most? Are there any new goals or aspirations you have for your upcoming year together?

Marla: I'm looking forward to supporting Paisley as she prepares for college exams and selecting a college to attend. I plan to help her prepare for the rigors of college and help solidify the foundation she needs to be successful in college.


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