This year’s LEADS program is proud of the successful and growing relationship between staff mentor, Tracy Poindexter, student mentor, Deonna Smith, and  freshmen mentee Ondraya Romero.  Below Tracy, Deonna, and Ondraya offer their reflections, highlighting their relationship and involvement in the LEADS program.

Tracy’s Reflection:

It has been an honor to be asked to serve as a LEADS Mentor this year! I strongly believe in the power that mentorships possess  in fostering community, encouraging leadership, and retaining students of color on predominately white college campuses. My previous experiences, as both a mentor and mentee, in various college and community organizations, undoubtedly impacted my educational, professional, leadership, and personal development. Although my LEADS Mentee, Ondraya Romero, is already a highly motivated, enthusiastic, and thriving student, I try my best to provide her with assistance, information, encouragement, and a listening ear, in the hopes that her mentorship experience is an invaluable one. Within the past six months, Ondraya  and I have enjoyed participating in UMEC’s Crafting Unity events, chatting briefly during lunch/study breaks, and socializing with her Peer Mentor, Deonna Smith. I also had the pleasure of taking Ondraya on a tour of downtown Spokane during December to look at the all of the marvelously-decorated Christmas Trees on display for the Christmas Tree Elegance event, held at Riverpark Square and The Davenport Hotel. Last month, Ondraya was also my guest for an off-campus, poetry open mic that I regularly participate in on the WSU/EWU Riverpoint Campus. What I enjoy most about the LEADS mentorship program is that it offers learning opportunities for both the mentee and mentor. While Ondraya is discovering more about campus life, future career and service opportunities, and the Spokane community, I am learning more about the interests and aspirations of GU students representing younger generations. I am so proud of how much Ondraya has already achieved within her first year on campus and can’t wait to witness her future accomplishments and see her walk across the stage in her sapphire cap and gown…I know she will soar!!!

Deonna’s Reflection:

Since learning about the LEADS program in my own Freshman year, I have been waiting for the opportunity to get involved with the program. This year I was fortunate enough to be paired with Ondraya Romero and Tracy Poindexter. Over the course of this year I have enjoyed coffee dates, lunches and dinners with these women, building community and getting to know them. I love LEADS because it represents one of the many ways that UMEC serves as a positive force in the Gonzaga Community. Through LEADS, I have gained new perspective and inspiration from Tracy, who is always encouraging us to become involved and leading by example. Spending time with Ondraya is an amazing way to stay connected with underclassmen and ideally make at least one freshman’s experience a little easier. By connecting LEADS mentees and staff and faculty, Gonzaga students create much needed and appreciated connections with the administrative side of the institution. The socials and LEADS gatherings are an amazing addition to the program and also celebrate mentorship bonds that truly enhance the Gonzaga experience. 

Ondraya’s Reflection:

It all started orientation week this year when I received an email asking me if I wanted to be a part of the LEADS program. As a LEADS member I would be assigned a facultly/staff mentor if I was accepted into the program.  As a first generation college student I was immediately drawn to the idea of having mentors on campus that could possibly help me with my transition from high school to college. I was not sure if I would be accepted or not, but it was worth a try. I applied and I got into the program. A few weeks afterward I got an email from my staff mentor, Tracy, and I was pleasantly surprised because I wasn’t expecting one of my mentors to reach out to me so quickly, especially my staff mentor since school just started and everything was a bit hectic. I was also pleasantly surprised that my student mentor was Deonna because as a BRIDGE participant (a pre-orientation program) I already got to know Deonna a little bit and I was excited to be her mentee because from what I could tell she was an amazing and driven student to be paired up with. First semester has gone by incredibly fast and our relationships have grown as well. It is nice to have a student and a staff mentor because of the fact that they bring two differing perspectives, which have been a great help to me. Tracy, knows all about the best things to do in the Spokane area, like where to eat and what seasonal events to attend. San Diego is nothing like Spokane so this has been a definite plus. For example, during Christmas time we walked around the mall and the Davenport to look at all the different Christmas trees that were being raffled off. I never even knew that Spokane did such a thing until she mentioned it to me. With Tracy I have also been able to go to my first open mic poetry slam and this Wednesday (3/5) we’re going out to eat with Deonna to catch up before Spring Break. Deonna, on the other hand, has been like an older sister to me because she’s there to give me advice when I seek it. For example, she helped convince me to run for Sophomore Senate, I didn’t get it, but I’m glad that I tried. At the end of the day I needed that little push and she gave it to me.  Although there are varying age gaps between the three of us, we mesh well together and I can say that I have found a friend in both of them. I am excited to see where these relationships head and I will always look forward to seeing their familiar faces around campus. I am glad that I took the time to fill out that application and it definitely made my transition to college much easier. 

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