SANDRA KOZERA

Encouragement is Key

“It is my goal to learn about and understand Aliyah so that I can provide support in whatever she is going through.”

Sandy, an in-house lawyer with K&L Gates, knows that support and encouragement are key to helping anyone accomplish their goals. In fact, six years ago a coworker encouraged Sandy to start a unique journey as a mentor with United Way’s Be A Middle School Mentor program.

“It’s hard to volunteer when you work full time and have small children,” Sandy says. “Mentoring allows me to make a big impact in just an hour each week, during the work day.”

Sandy was matched with her current mentee, Aliyah, three years ago at Pittsburgh King PreK-8. She is thankful that every year after the long summer break, both of them have returned to continue their relationship. “I’ve had the privilege to see Aliyah really grow into herself over the past three years,” Sandy says.

Sandy and Aliyah talk about many things when they see each other, including Aliyah’s favorite subjects in school, homework, Aliyah’s interest in singing and dreams to be a veterinarian. “We talk about the classes Aliyah will want to do well in so that she can meet her goals,” Sandy says. “I hope that other adults in her life support her dreams no matter what.”

Her mentoring experience has inspired Sandy to get more involved in her local school district, where she is currently running for school board. “Talking to middle school kids these last six years has had an impact on my understanding of what kids need from the education system,” she says. “The mentoring program has solidified that focus for me.”

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