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QCC Mentoring Program Delivers the Perfect Match

September, 2019
  • From left: QCC student Zuheyry Encarnacion with her mentor Dr. Natalie Anumba.
    From left: QCC student Zuheyry Encarnacion with her mentor Dr. Natalie Anumba.
  • Student mentee Zuheyry Encarnacion shares a laugh with her mentor, Dr. Natalie Anumba.
    Student mentee Zuheyry Encarnacion shares a laugh with her mentor, Dr. Natalie Anumba.

Zuheyry Encarnacion finally knows what it’s like to have someone in her corner. Since she began taking criminal justice classes at Quinsigamond Community College, Ms. Encarnacion has had the support and guidance of a special woman in her life -  Dr. Natalie Anumba, a forensic psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This special partnership, thanks to QCC’s mentoring program, is one that has made an indelible impression on both women and one that has given Ms. Encarnacion the motivation and self-confidence she was looking for in her life. 

It was when she started taking classes at QCC that she was encouraged by her Massachusetts EDCO (Massachusetts Education and Career Opportunities) advocate to get into the college’s mentoring program. QCC’s mentoring program connects QCC students with staff, faculty, industry, and community members to create one-on-one mentoring relationships. The program provides extensive benefits to students, as well as professional development and networking opportunities for mentors. Ms.Encarnacion took the advice of her advocate and was matched with Dr. Natalie Anumba, who happened to be the first community partner to become a QCC mentor.

“I didn’t want to do it at first but I’m so glad I did. Natalie helps me with my major and helps me with resources in my career. She got to know me,” Ms. Encarnacion said. “She’s my motivator even if I’m having a bad day.”

Dr. Anumba said she heard about QCC’s mentoring program after attending a Worcester Chamber of Commerce event where she heard QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja speak about the value of mentorship. She said one of the points he made, which resonated with her, was that employers need to pay attention to the local workforce because there’s a wealth of potential right in Central Massachusetts. Dr. Anumba said she went up to Dr. Pedraja after the program and asked how she could help.

“There is a demand for mentors and mentoring is so important. I look back at my career and the people who contributed to it and the mentors along the way,” she said. “I personally feel like I’m contributing to something special that’s in-line with my skills.”

Ms. Encarnacion, who is set to graduate in December 2019, has a close relationship with her mentor. She detailed one particularly tough time when she was trying unsuccessfully to get a work study job on campus and “everything was going horrible.”  

“Natalie said to keep trying you’re almost done and then I got called to do work study with Eduardo Rivas (who does the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program),” she said. “Having someone in your corner, no matter what, is amazing. Not a lot of people can say they have emotional and academic support.”

QCC’s Director of Mentoring for Perkins Programs, Gabriel Santner works to find the best match for each mentor and mentee partnership. This year there are already 130 mentor/mentee matches and Mr. Santner expects to have close to 150 within the next few weeks. In fact, this year five core community partners have signed on to be part of the mentoring program - AbbVie Biopharmaceuticals, The City of Worcester, University of Massachusetts Memorial Healthcare, Hanover Insurance and Love Your Labels. 

“When you meet someone in your chosen career you see what you’re going to go into and you gain another support,” Ms. Encarnacion said.

Ms. Encarnacion’s goal is to graduate in December and transfer to Worcester State University. Her dream is to one day be a detective and said she will keep pushing to meet that goal for her three-year-old daughter.

While this may be the end of her academic year at QCC, Dr. Anumba and Ms. Encarnacion plan to continue their mentoring relationship.

“What you put into this program is what you get out of it and I’ve gotten a lot,” Ms. Encarnacion said.

Visit QCC Mentoring to learn more.