10 Years, 10 Stories: Life-changing for mentor and mentee alike
“If you want to make a difference in this world, start with a child.”
When Erin Quinn joined United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor (BAMSM) program in its first year, she had no idea how it would change her life forever.
Over the last 10 years, Erin has evolved from a young professional to an attorney at Wabtec Corporation, married her husband, Brian, and became a mother to their son, Padraig. The one constant? Mentoring.
Erin’s first mentee was Mya, a sixth grader at Pittsburgh King. Erin remembers when they were first paired, recalling how Mya wasn’t thrilled with their match-up. “I think she had her eye on another mentor, but whoever matched us really knew what they were doing.”
When Mya graduated from the BAMSM program in eighth grade, neither was ready to say goodbye. With permission from her parents, Mya and Erin’s relationship continued to blossom. Together, they talked about Mya’s career goals, traveled to visit colleges and are still close today.
“We’ve gone from mentor/mentee to family. Mya is like a daughter to me. She’s so strong and independent and smart. I’m so incredibly proud of her,” Erin said. “As she’s grown into an adult, I’ve gotten to be there for her through all of life’s changes. I feel so lucky for that privilege.”
For Mya, the feeling is mutual. “Erin is always there for me. We talk about everything and I know I can go to her for advice,” Mya shared. “She boosted me up, helped me think about college and my future. Without Erin, I don’t know where I’d be today.”
Erin considers mentoring just as beneficial for her as it is for her mentees, maybe even more so. “It is so amazingly rewarding – and with so little time invested! In just one hour a week, what you get back is unquantifiable. If you want to make a difference in this world, start with a child.”
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania is honored to celebrate 10 impactful years of our Be a Middle School Mentor program. You can make a difference for local kids by becoming a mentor today.