New PSP mentor, Jesus Herrera

January 24, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

One of Partnership Scholars Program’s newest mentors, Jesus Herrera, is not new to mentorship or to PSP. Jesus first became a part of PSP when he was inducted as a new 7th grade scholar at Lennox Middle School in 2004. Jesus remembers having a positive experience with the program as a student, saying he truly benefited from the many experiences PSP afforded him that he would not have had otherwise. Ten years later, while leading a tour for PSP scholars of his now alma mater USC, Jesus was urged by current Board Chair and mentor, Meg Sanchez, to come back to the program and mentor.

After a little over a year mentoring with PSP, Jesus finds he is reaping the benefits of being a mentor, bonding with his scholars. “I try to choose places that I haven’t been, that way both they and I get to learn and experience new things,” says Jesus. “For two of my scholars, they are older brothers. They haven’t said straight out, but it’s kind of like they see me more than just a mentor, but like an older brother or a father figure.”

All three are all in 10th grade, and he describes them as very energetic teenagers who pose the usual challenges. “For the most part they have the same school schedule, but they have different outside-of-school commitments,” says Jesus. “Communication issues are something a challenge; we’ve made some progress there. I’ve figured out times that work best and I’ve learned that it’s okay that at times only two of them can make it – or one.”

Jesus has set some goals for himself, as well as for his scholars.

His first goal is in response to the challenge of balancing being a friend and being a disciplinarian. Jesus says for him, it’s about “knowing how to balance how to be the friendly and cool mentor, but also guide them in the right direction and correct them if they are acting in a way that they shouldn’t be.” Jesus would also like to devote more time to planning. Especially as his scholars are now in the 10th grade, he wants to have them see more college campuses. “I want to take them to at least two other universities that they haven’t gone to with school. I think UC Santa Barbara would be a good opportunity for them, and UC Irvine has been brought up as well.” He feels strongly about planning trips outside of the Los Angeles County area and plans to take his scholars to Las Vegas in the coming year.

As for his scholars, Jesus has some goals in mind for them as well. “I want them to not have finished the program thinking, ‘I wished I had gotten to go to some place that I didn’t get to go,’” says Jesus. “I definitely want them to be comfortable with other cultures as well. I’ve already taken them to three or four ethnic restaurants. They don’t have to like everything, but I want them to be accepting.” And of course, Jesus wants his boys to keep up their grades and stay focused on college. “I tell them that they have resources to help them do well in school,” says Jesus. “I want them to all have good grades, be in good standings, to never be scared to ask. I don’t want them to not be able to tell me that they’re struggling and want them to be comfortable reaching out to myself or to Lisa or Maria.”