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  • Nchofon Tagha, Open Dreams Scholar

The positive effects mentors have in a student's life - my own experience

The day started no differently. I jumped over the bar and threw up a pathetic amount of weight in an uncoordinated fashion. Luckily, the day was the least crowded day since I started going for classes and there were only 3 of us there. The instructor sat there, watched me once, and approached me. He said two things: (1) "Widen your grip at least two more inches. This way, the bar travels less to get over your head." (2) "Start with your feet at shoulder width apart. Then, the momentum from pulling up the bar should create a slight jumping motion. When this happens …". I went back with his suggestion in mind, got in position and tossed the bar over my head easier than I ever had done before. This slight adjustment had taken me from elementary lifting to the Arnold Schwarzenegger level of power snatching (exaggeration though). What’s not an Exaggeration is the positive effects mentors have in your life.

When I got into the Open Dreams Summer Academy, each of us was assigned a mentor. For some of us, it was the very first time to have a mentor. It was also intriguing because these were people we had never seen or known before. Without going into details, I will like to stress on a few things. To begin with, a mentor is that person who will keep on watching you play when all the other spectators have left. In our context, your mentor may be miles away from you but you have to create the latter-stated scene. And how is this done? By letting them know of your every move and thought and sometimes, those things you feel are unnecessary to tell them. They need to see you the way you are to better understand your personality. This gives them the data they need to understand your strength and weaknesses. So determined mentees must constantly communicate with their mentors. Why is it necessary? They have been through a similar experience and have brought home the bacon. So they know the necessary and sufficient tiny pieces you just need to add to what you have, to drift from your current level to a higher ambitious level you. What’s not an exaggeration is the positive effects mentors have in your life.

A few days into the second quarter of the year 2019, 4 years after online communication, I directly got to meet this amazing person who has been watching me play the game. Ha-ha not the Game of Thrones but the game played at Open Dreams. Mentor Jecolia Longtchi is a Sensor Hardware Engineer. The moment we spent was jaw-dropping and emotional too. I reintroduced myself and talked about my education life. I also talked to her about a project I had at hand: Improving healthcare via the sound exploration of the world’s technology. We talked a little more about the way forward. I got to know a little more about her and a lot more. Yes, I had a meal too Ha-ha. Before our meeting, she had played the role of a teacher; she helped me study for the SAT and TOEFL, not forgetting the college application essays she reviewed. She also made me understand profoundly the idea behind the radio/amplifier circuit I mounted when I was 14. She surprisingly, also helped me understand the concepts behind frames and references, a topic in mechanics. It appeared complex because it was the first thing I was learning in French, a language I barely mastered at that time. I learned a lot more from her. As I look forward to specializing in the field of robotics, particularly Artificial intelligence, I still have a lot more to learn from her as her career, in way, has some ties with mine. Mentee-Mentor relationship is a life-long journey that enables the mentee to stay up working and on track

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