My high school requires all students to have an internship during their senior year. During my senior year, I chose to be a mentor with The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh’s YouthALIVE! (Youth Achievement through Learning, Involvement, Volunteering, and Employment) and VolunTEENS because I wanted to give back to a program like the one I had attended as a middle schooler. Without that program in middle school, I would have just been hanging out by myself at home. I don’t want to think about the kind of trouble I might have gotten into.
I was interviewed during the spring of my junior year and asked to start work in the fall. I asked if I could begin work that summer, so that by fall I would be completely prepared to mentor once school started and the middle schoolers came. Following an intense training program, conducted in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Mentoring Partnerships, I earned my mentor certification and was ready to go. I was happy to support the kids and the program however I could, from assisting with robotics projects to office support to working winter sweater drives to staffing field trips.
I have spent much of my life following others and the Children’s Museum gave me my first opportunity to be a leader. I am a quiet leader and I try to lead by example. My second summer at the Museum, I worked on the museum floor, helping visitors and large groups. But I was also helping my peers - those high school students who were spending their first summer working on the museum floor. My example helped guide their work and, thus, literally guide hundreds of people through the museum.
The Children’s Museum programs provide a safe environment for children and youth to explore career areas like teaching, writing, creative arts, mentoring and much more. For me, YouthALIVE and VolunTEENS were all about mentoring. I think friends and family are the most important things in life.
Through their mentoring programs, YouthALIVE and VolunTEENS have allowed me to share my most precious gift: my friendship. In return, I’ve made many new friends and developed organizational and leadership skills that I trust will serve me well the rest of my life. If there were more afterschool programs, more friendships would be created, people would worry less and youth would learn how to lead and take advantage of opportunities they get to learn new things and succeed in life.