16 December 2016

An Interview with an alumni mentor

by Anna Darling

St Anne’s School Catholic School is an 11-18 academy for girls. The school has worked with Future First since 2014 and now has over 400 former students on its alumni network. Olabisi left St Anne’s in 2007 and signed up to support the school in 2015. She began mentoring Rachel in 2016 after the school found her lacking in motivation and unable to revise for her exams. Olabisi shares her experienced with Future First below.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

“I left St Anne’s in 2007 and studied Medical Microbiology at the University of Reading. When my course finished, I worked in several banking roles and also went to Nigeria for the National Youth Service programme. I always knew I wanted to do Medicine but I had a real lack of self-confidence. My classmates would probably tell you that I was full of confidence but I wasn’t actually confident in my ability inside.

Why did you get involved with the mentoring scheme?

When I was at school there wasn’t a lot of support for prospective Medical students. There were 2 or 3 of us who were thinking about medicine but we never heard from any employers or former students; we didn’t have support like the mentoring that St Anne’s are now offering. I had to figure out my route myself.  Nothing is new: people have gone through this before and it would have been much faster and less painful if I had someone telling me what it would be like, you know. My pathway was painful and gruelling at times and there was a delay in getting where i needed to be but in the end i did!

I would have appreciated people helping me decide what to study and how to study too. School teaches you the information but you need that extra support. How to study, memory skills, revision skills, that’s why I chose to be part of the mentoring programme.

Tell us a bit about your mentoring relationship.

I’ve been mentoring Rachel for about two to three months now. I check the platform a couple of times a week. I can really see myself in her; it’s often like talking to my younger self: she struggles with what many spend a lifetime trying to grasp – confidence in her work and motivation. When you’re not confident in your ability you assume a passive approach and simply let life happen to you. You’re scared of failing so you’d rather say, ‘I didn’t study and that’s why I failed’ than ‘I studied really hard’. I wanted to help her find her confidence and make her believe in her ability to do anything if she’s prepared to work for it.

I’ve really noticed a difference in Rachel. We had a bit of a break-through moment and I didn’t expect it to be so upliftng for me. She sent me a message that made me so happy and excited for her. Even her use of words, her tone; she had a study plan and she was sticking to it on a daily basis. It was a huge difference in her state of mind even after a few months. She has a completely different energy and I’m so happy for her. It just shows the power of mentorship and the power that those words have had on her.

Rachel doesn’t know what she wants to do yet but she has an idea of the subjects she enjoys. At the moment we’re concentrating on the task in hand: getting her grades up and making sure she does well in her exams. Then we’ll start thinking about her future, I’m excited to see what she decides.

I’m really pleased that St Anne’s are now providing this kind of support and I really hope the students utilise the opportunity that wasn’t there when I was at school. There’s no better education that hearing from people who have been there and have all the experience to share”.

Anna Darling

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  • Email: anna@futurefirst.org.uk

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