Girls Empowered by Mentoring (G.E.M.)
A Collaborative Program of AAUW, Brookhaven College and the Early College High School
In 2015, with College/University Partner Brookhaven College and the local Carrollton Farmers Branch Independent School District (CFB ISD), our branch of AAUW created a mentoring program between women and young female college students. CFB ISD maintains an Early College High School (ECHS) on Brookhaven’s campus. This high school enrolls students in their freshman year with the design to complete their four years of high school simultaneously with the first two years of college.
The ECHS principal and counselor explained the need for a program to help the young women be successful in their college goals. Many of these students come from culturally traditional homes without previous college experience. A female role model has the opportunity offer these young ladies needed support.
Mentors come from among the college employees, local residents, civic groups and AAUW members. The student scholars have completed their sophomore year at the high school and been recommended by the ECHS principal or counselor to be part of the program. An Advisory Committee continually organizes, monitors and evaluates the different components of the program.
AAUW members who choose a smaller commitment than the weekly meeting with a scholar can help with contacting speakers, setting up the group meetings, and providing refreshments.
After receiving positive reviews from mentors and scholars in our initial year, the GEM Advisory Team made a few revisions and can now more easily involve mentors during the program year. Please consider submitting an application in the following link. We will call you as soon as we get notice of your interest.
AAUW’s G.E.M. Program Celebrates End of Year
The Girls Empowered by Mentoring (G.E.M.) program concluded for this year with its dinner held at Babe’s Restaurant in downtown Carrollton. In addition to the eight mentors and ten scholars in attendance, eight of our own AAUW members and four guests joined us for a total of thirty people. Everyone enjoyed hearing statements of the accomplishments the girls have made this year. The young ladies also tearfully expressed their appreciation for the attention and commitment of their mentors throughout the year.
In addition, Carolyn Benavides, owner of Joe’s Pizza on Belt Line in Carrollton, shared her story of challenges and determination in growing up as a Latina woman with a big heart and strong will. Carolyn shared that she was born and raised in Carrollton, graduating from RL Turner.
Carolyn juggled raising four boys, and with her husband’s encouragement, she now owns Joe’s Pizza on Belt Line Road in Carrollton. More admirable is Carolyn’s commitment to give back to the community. Joe’s Pizza offers meals for those in need throughout the year, an aspect of her career that she values more than her financial success. Carolyn advised the scholars to give back as they make their way in the world. For Carolyn, that is what warms her heart. Her remarks gave our scholars motivation and a great role model. AAUW is grateful to Carolyn for spending time with us.
Next year, our third year of existence, we will celebrate G.E.M.’s first class of ECHS graduates!
Girls Empowered by Mentoring
Farmers Branch Carrollton AAUW
Girls Empowered by Mentoring (GEM) is designed to bring together experienced women with young women in CFBISD Early College High School. These relationships are intended to empower the students to reach their full potential, navigate effective ways to continue their education and to build self-confidence. The young women will be referred to as “scholars”.
We welcome your interest in being a mentor for a young lady at the Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD Early College High School (ECHS) located on the campus of Brookhaven College. This program begins before the academic year in August and ends in May of each year. A mentor is asked to commit to that entire length of time, about 3 hours a month. Our goal is to help these scholars be successful in their academic career through problem solving and behavioral growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need to get a background check?
Annual background checks are an expectation of the Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD for all volunteers. The approval is valid from August 1 through July 31 each year. If you are going to mentor, by mid-August you should apply for a background check at the following website:
A CFB ISD representative will email you that you have been approved. Please forward that approval to the AAUW Steering Committee Chair.
How much time does mentoring take?
One hour twice a month. The Early College High School staff has arranged that the scholars will be available on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.
What kind of questions should I ask as I get to know my student?
A form is supplied for you both to use upon your first meeting. The scholar might share her academic goals, her strengths and interests, or her challenges.
My student asked what having a mentor meant. What do I tell her?
A mentor is an adult who has experience with and values higher education. This woman is committed to your success in school, in getting your high school diploma at the same time as your two-year college degree. She is a resource for helping you make good academic decisions. In some cases, being in a mentoring program will be a good item to include on your Curriculum Vita, indicating your commitment to success.
Do we get any training? How much time does it take?
Mentors will participate in at least two events that address skills they can use in working with their scholar. These events are during the workweek, usually during lunch.
Am I responsible for helping the scholar with her homework?
No. A mentor is not a tutor. However, if the problem is subject comprehension, it is helpful to have conversations about what resources are available for academic help. Students should know that the ECHS counselor and teachers are dedicated to their success. If the problem is one of procrastination or anxiety, the mentor might ask the student about her time management. A G.E.M. goal is helping students learn to solve their problems. A tip for mentors: Try to ask questions instead of provide answers.
Where do we meet? Where are some suggested places to meet? Can we walk around the school trail or do we need to stay close by?
Meeting places can vary, as long as they are on the Brookhaven College campus. A good place should have as few distractions as possible so that a focused conversation can occur.
Do we only and always meet at school?
We have an end-of-year activity that will meet off campus. Otherwise, plan to meet your scholar on Brookhaven’s campus.
What if I can’t make it the day of a meeting?
As soon as possible, contact your scholar and the ECHS counselor and leave a message. See resources below.
What should I do if my scholar cancels frequently?
Setting priorities and keeping commitments are important learning tasks for high school students. If the mentor perceives a problem, at the next meeting with the scholar, she can discuss how she handles her own scheduling conflicts, how time management is a skill a successful person must develop, and how she thinks about her own priorities. If the problem persists, please inform the ECHS counselor.
When talking about college, should we concentrate on steering the girls to state schools or elsewhere?
This decision is the scholar’s choice. Focus on the requirements of the colleges that they are interested in (SAT scores, grades, class rank). If they don’t meet the entrance requirements for the colleges they are interested in, talk about a plan to make that happen.
May we help them or advise them on scholarships?
Yes, we encourage our students to apply for as many scholarships as possible. If they come to you for help with scholarships or if you are aware of scholarship opportunities, please feel free to assist your scholar.
Am I responsible for bringing my mentee lunch?
No. All ECHS students have a lunch available to them although many of them make their own arrangements.
May I have activities outside of school with my mentee?
As a rule, no. However, if something special is available, call or email the ECHS counselor to discuss arrangements. Parents must also be involved in this decision. In general, a mentor should not convey a scholar in a private auto due to liability issues. If the parents can provide transportation or can give the scholar permission to ride public transportation or drive her own car, an outside event might be possible.
Who do I contact if my student shares concerns about sexual abuse, bullying, dating violence, alcohol/drugs, parental neglect or abuse? Am I obliged to tell someone? What if my student wants me to keep something secret?
Mentors should be aware and convey to their scholar that they cannot keep secrets. By law, an adult must report abuse. The first contact for that report should be the ECHS Counselor.