JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Tennessee Promise Scholarship offers students the opportunity to attend state community college and technical institutes across Tennessee fee-free, but that program also offers mentorship.
Right now, the program is looking for more mentors for the class of 2022.
The program tnAchieves is looking for mentors to help 2022 high school graduates through their last semester of high school and first semester at community college or technical school.
“Many of our students are the first in their family to go to college,” said Tyler Ford, the director of mentors. “So, offering them that local support component offering them a volunteer mentor is just an added level of support to make sure they’re successful in navigating the college-going process.”
Mentors will be paired with five to seven students and will help them keep track of deadlines and walk them through paperwork and provide encouragement to the students.
Ford said the commitment averages out to about an hour a month. They will help those students through their last semester of high school and first semester at community college or technical school.
“What major are they interested in? What path did they want to follow?” said Ford. “Finding the best path — the best path forward for them. That could be a technical school, that could be a community college. Working to plug them into some form of post-secondary opportunity.”
“It’s important that if we’re encouraging students to sign up for Tennessee promise, we need the mentors to walk alongside with them,” said Lora Barnett, a tnAchieves mentor.
Barnett is going into her fourth year as a mentor. She said the program provides a lot of support for students and mentors.
“It gives you step by step,” said Barnett. “It also gives you examples of texts that you may send or messages that you may send. You also get an email; I usually get a weekly email, if not a bi-weekly email, from them about things that are coming up.”
Ford said you don’t need to be an expert about applying to college to be a mentor, but be willing to commit to supporting the student through their journey. He said they want mentors to make a connection beyond schooling.
Barnett said while it doesn’t take up a lot of time, it makes a big difference.
“Having someone there that can help them through each step of the way, I think is comforting as well,” said Barnett. “But also being able to give back to those students is something very rewarding.”
The deadline to apply is December 3 and mentorship lasts from February to November. Mentors are paired with students in their county and can even select the school.
To apply or learn more about the tnAchieves program, click here.