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Respecting One Another is the Hallmark of a Positive Mentoring Partnership

July, 2020
  • QCC's Director of Mentoring, Gabriel Santner holds a Zoom interview with mentor Hanan Ibraheim and mentee Ibeliz Garcia.
    QCC's Director of Mentoring, Gabriel Santner holds a Zoom interview with mentor Hanan Ibraheim and mentee Ibeliz Garcia.

After graduating from high school in 2016, Ibeliz Garcia knew Quinsigamond Community College would be her school of choice. She had been dealing with chronic medical issues that made it necessary for her to attend college close to home and QCC fit the bill.

“When I came to QCC I learned about the mentoring program and signed up with my best friend,” Ms. Garcia said.

Hanan Ibraheim is a QCC alumna who went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in mathematics, before landing a job as an insurance analyst at Hanover Insurance Group in Worcester. While she enjoyed her job at Hanover, her love for math made her realize she wanted to share her passion with others and decided to go back to school to become a math teacher.  She also came back to QCC, helping in the  Math Center as a tutor. It was at that time that she learned about the college’s mentoring program.

“I thought this was a good way for me to share my experiences,” she said.

She signed up for the program and was paired with Ms. Garcia. It quickly seemed like a very natural fit for the two. Both women had attended Worcester Public Schools - Ms. Ibraheim went to North High, while Ms. Garica went to Claremont Academy. The two both felt an instant connection on their initial meeting.

“I never had a female connection like this unless it was a family member. It was amazing the bond I had with my mentor. We could communicate about anything,” Ms. Garcia said.

“It just happened naturally. We both come from immigrant families and we are very connected with our families. It was amazing and it got us closer,” Ms. Ibraheim said. “Ibeliz is very good at communicating and putting herself out there. We talk about her experiences and her goals. She has such a positive personality. It makes the relationship very outgoing.”

Both mentor and mentee feel they are learning a lot from the partnership. Ms. Ibraheim stressed the importance of respecting the other person’s cultural beliefs, celebrating the similarities and understanding the differences. Ms. Garcia agreed, adding that respectful questions led to many positive and enlightening conversations.

She said Ms. Ibraheim enabled her to see things in a different way and helped get her out of her comfort zone.

“I am a criminal justice major; however, I also love technology. Hanan helped me to realize I loved to work with computers and I added a second major - Computer Systems Engineering Technology - Computer Forensics,” she said. “I learned from Hanan that it’s OK to take a risk and it’s never too late to change careers and make yourself happy.”

While the pandemic has shifted the way mentors and mentees meet, the mentoring partnerships people have forged have not suffered, as this mentoring partnership demonstrated.

“The first virtual meeting was a bit challenging, so we ended up talking on the phone. The second virtual meeting went great. I’m grateful for the technology,” Ms. Ibraheim said.

This new way of meeting each other is particularly beneficial to the partnership, as Ms. Ibraheim is moving to Michigan to get married, and begin a career in the education field. She feels the relationship will continue from afar.

“I feel like everyone should have a mentor,” Ms. Garcia said. “I learned from Hanan and she learned from me.”

Ms. Ibraheim agrees and encourages more people to consider being a mentor.

“The program is designed to be doable for everyone,” she said. “To leave a lasting impression on someone is an amazing feeling.”

To learn more visit QCC Mentoring.