Every January, YES Prep, along with other organizations and individuals across the country, celebrates National Mentorship Month, honoring the mentors that build transformative relationships and give back and offer guidance to our future leaders. In observance of National Mentorship Month, we are spotlighting the amazing work benefiting young girls of color at YES Prep White Oak Secondary through a partnership with Prairie View A&M University students.
Sisters Building Sisters
Spearheaded by Prairie View A&M students Edom Kidane and Grace Brooks, Sisters Building Sisters isn’t your average after-school program, the purpose behind the program comes from a very personal place. Kidane and Brooks describe it as a “community-oriented sisterhood” that focuses on addressing the lack of emotional, mental and educational support for young black girls and girls of color.
“This program began as a casual conversation between Grace and me discussing our childhood environments,” Kidane stated. “As members of underrepresented communities, the adversities we had to overcome as young black girls were immense. As community activists, we were determined to create a possible solution for these disparities.”
As members of underrepresented communities, the adversities we had to overcome as young black girls were immense. As community activists, we were determined to create a possible solution for these disparities.”
Sisters Building Sisters focuses on providing a safe space for young girls of color at White Oak through a curriculum focused on women's physical and mental health, coping skills, stress relief, self-esteem, higher education and healthy relationships. Girls in the program get to explore various hobbies to help them discover new interests they may have otherwise never tried. Some activities include crocheting, painting, growing plants, journaling and much more — not to mention the field trips and guest speakers!
The White Oak Collaboration
When Kelsey Yarbrough — A 7th-grade social studies teacher and grade level chair at White Oak — one day spoke with a group of girl students, she realized how much inconsistency there was when checking in on their mental health. “It made me realize how important it is for young girls to have someone to look up to.” So, when a fellow campus leader presented the program to Yarbrough, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to get her students involved in mentorship on campus.
Kidane and Brooks immediately noticed Yarbrough’s dedication to positively impacting the lives of her students. “Witnessing her students' remarkable love for her has been inspirational,” shared Kidane. She continued, “the White Oak family has been nothing but helpful, kind-hearted and encouraging throughout our offering of this program.”
Carving Pathways to Opportunity
At YES Prep, our mission is to empower all Houston students to succeed in college and to pursue lives of opportunity. But pursuing lives of opportunity goes beyond the classroom walls. Yarbrough explains how programs like Sisters Building Sisters help to fulfill our mission’s purpose.
“You can't only talk about giving kids an opportunity, you must show them the opportunities that they can have. Yes, we want our kids to have all the opportunities but especially see those opportunities manifested. Sisters Building Sisters is an example of that in action. It will give students space to see and hear from people who are in the professions they want to be in, how they got there, the obstacles they had to overcome and how if you can see it, then you can believe it.”
You can't only talk about giving kids an opportunity, you must show them the opportunities that they can have. Yes, we want our kids to have all the opportunities but especially see those opportunities manifested. Sisters Building Sisters is an example of that in action."
Kidane and Brooks shared a similar sentiment about the importance of connecting with students who don’t necessarily identify with taking the traditional route to college. “In order for an institution to support students who want to explore alternative careers or choices, it must implement programs and events that share these options.”
Importance of Mentorship
In closing, we’ve asked Kidane and Brooks what mentorship means and why it’s essential for our future generations.
Brooks shared that a mentor is a leader who guides those who seek to expand their knowledge and mindset to become an elevated version of themselves. “The mentorship I have received and continue to as a student leader has been amazing, and I am forever thankful! The relationships I have formed with my mentors have encouraged me to continue the act of educating and helping others who also face challenges that inhibit them to thrive.”
The mentorship I have received has been life-changing, and I desire to make the same impact. I am dedicated to minimizing the adversity of my mentees.”
For Kidane, her motto is “each one, teach one.” She shared that mentorship is servant leadership and the desire to provide selfless guidance to others. “The mentorship I have received has been life-changing, and I desire to make the same impact. I am dedicated to minimizing the adversity of my mentees.”
To Yarbrough, Kidane and Brooks, mentorship is a commitment that comes from very personal places. At YES Prep, we are excited about this amazing collaboration and the great work they are doing at White Oak! Thank you for all you do.
If you would like your child to attend YES Prep White Oak Secondary, please visit yesprep.org/sayYES.