Maximizing potential through targeted career and education supports
"How he does it, I don't know." That's how Alex describes how well his Future Link mentor, Joe Begg, is able to relate to young adults. Their official Future Link mentorship is approaching the one year mark, but their relationship goes back five years. It's a story with a twist: Future Link did not recruit Joe to be a mentor. Bemnet, Joe's first mentee, did.
Joe Begg, 62, was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Montgomery County. He's an "IT guy" according to his two mentees and works for the AARP Foundation. He's also someone who gives back to his community. Joe has volunteered for years at the Mid-County United Ministries helping coordinate their food pantry and serving on their board. It's an opportunity to help others, to include the numerous high school students who volunteer at the food pantry on the weekends. That's how Joe met both Bemnet and Alex.
Bemnet joined Future Link in the fall of 2015 after graduating from Einstein High School. She learned about the value of mentoring during our Career Development and Self-Advocacy Seminar and quickly requested a mentor at the completion. Bemnet approached Joe, told him about the Future Link program, and asked him to be her mentor. He agreed, completed the Future Link mentor application and training, and was officially mentoring Bemnet in January 2016. One year later, Alex joined Future Link with Joe and Bemnet's encouragement. Joe asked if he could also mentor Alex. While unusual, Future Link quickly agreed. Joe demonstrated a deep commitment to supporting Bemnet and Alex, both of whom are current Montgomery College students.
Joe is methodical in his approach to supporting his two mentees. Joe and the Future Link staff regularly discuss the potential career pathways and resources available for Bemnet and Alex. Bemnet is pursuing the field of biohealth sciences and Alex will be earning a degree in criminal justice. For Joe, being a Future Link mentor has given him "a better understanding of the mentoring process of supporting real people with real problems." His mentoring support has included discussions on personal safety practices, financial challenges, class scheduling, and taking advantage of opportunities that can lead to personal growth. Joe takes pride in the increased confidence he sees demonstrated in both Bemnet and Alex and he encourages them to look forward to the future.
For Alex, Joe is like a second father figure. Identifying himself as an introvert, Alex trusts Joe implicitly and appreciates the opportunity to discuss personal issues. After all, those same issues will impact education and career decisions. As for Bemnet, she and Joe still talk weekly to discuss her progress on her goals. Her career field has a variety of pathways from which to choose and Joe is helping Bemnet in her decision-making process. Alex and Bemnet obviously have a great deal of respect for Joe. "He always arrives on time and stays late at the food pantry," noticed Bemnet. She appreciates how dedicated he is to helping others.
Mentoring is about empowering our young adults to make good decisions and serving as a good role model. Joe is a true supporter of the Future Link program and wholeheartedly embraces his role as a mentor. As Joe identified, "Future Link is a valuable program that prepares these young adults with a range of life skills." A mentor's support is critical to our students' success. Future Link joins Bemnet and Alex in appreciating the commitment and wisdom which mentors like Joe Begg bring to their support of our Future Link students.