Who: Tiffany Banh
Role: Bright Start Mentor
Mentor Since: August 2016
Bright Start is our groundbreaking education program that pairs elementary-age children requiring additional assistance in reading, math, and science with volunteer mentors who meet with students every week for a two-hour session. Trained by Project Hope Alliance and Every Monday Matters, Bright Start mentors function as mentors, coaches, and motivators. Read more about this innovative education program here.
1) What is your why?
I decided to become a mentor because, from working with children at my youth group, I found that I have a passion for working with children and helping them, whether it's with their education or just with daily life. I wanted to find more ways for me to do this while also giving back to my community, and when I heard about Bright Start, I thought it was a perfect opportunity. Working as a mentor is important to me because I feel like I'm making a difference in these children's lives. Helping them succeed in any way I can has been such a rewarding experience for me.
2) What component of Bright Start do you most enjoy with your mentee?
Storytime and the time we spend on the projects for each week's theme. My mentees love having someone read to them, and they're always very engaged. They especially love books with a little humor. I also believe they learn a lot from the projects that they do each week, and this time allows them to focus on themselves and how much they matter.
3) Favorite mentoring moment to date?
My favorite mentoring moment was when I found out my mentees were interested in science! I have always been passionate about science, and it was a breakthrough moment for me and my mentees. We had just begun mentoring sessions, so they were still getting used to me. But once I found out how much they enjoyed science, I was able to connect with them in a different way. They also became more comfortable with me as their mentor. I wound up giving them one of my old ecology textbooks in the hopes that, even though it would be difficult for them to understand, they would look at the pictures and become even more fascinated by science. It's definitely a moment I won't forget!
4) In what ways has mentoring impacted your life?
I believe that my experiences in mentoring with Bright Start have broadened my knowledge on what it's like to work with children. As an aspiring teacher, I am always looking for different opportunities to gain experience on how to become the best teacher I can be. Bright Start has helped give me a different perspective on teaching. Working with my mentees, I've learned so much about how dynamic, creative, and intelligent children can be, and especially how their skills and talents can be underestimated in daily life. I learned how much potential children have, and because of that, how important it is that these children are surrounded by people who encourage them and help them realize their potential. Ultimately, being a part of Bright Start has given me a lot of invaluable memories and experiences, and has definitely changed me for the better.
5) Who are you when you're not changing the lives of our young learners?
At the moment, I'm a full-time student at University California, Irvine (UCI). I'm in my third year studying biological education with the hopes of one day becoming a teacher. On the days that I'm not mentoring, I'm volunteering at a Buddhist youth group as a mentor, youth group leader, and teacher. I also work as a learning support intern and tutor in biology on weekdays. I like spending whatever free time I have reading, catching up on my favorite TV shows, and playing with my dog.