NORMAN — Former University of Oklahoma student Grace Scorsone of Edmond has served as a volunteer mentor for the Boren Mentoring Initiative, providing academic support and encouragement to Reese, a Norman student.
As a collegiate peer mentor, Scorsone spent at least an hour a week volunteering one-to-one with her mentee for one and a half academic years.
Scorsone, who graduated with Academic Distinction this past May, is working as a scribe at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center. During the summer she applied to medical schools while volunteering and shadowing at various medical clinics.
Scorsone is the daughter of Salina and Steve Scorsone of Edmond.
Scorsone contributed to Reese’s growth in confidence over the school year.
“Reese seems to be much more comfortable with who she is, and not allowing the hurtful words of others to bring her down or feel any less important,” Scorsone said. “We had several talks about this throughout this year — people’s words can hurt, but it’s all about how you handle the situation and whether you choose to believe the hurtful things they say to you. She has learned to handle these situations with grace, and I am so proud of the confidence she has built since beginning middle school.”
Mentoring impacts the mentor, too.
“Mentoring has impacted my life in ways I never thought possible. Sometimes I think I learned more from my mentee than she learned from me,” Scorsone said. “We developed such a special relationship, where we both felt so comfortable and accepted. We could be creative, happy, sad — whatever the emotions of the day happened to be, they were always honest and free of judgment.”
Being a mentor helped me step back from the stresses of my own studies. When I was there, I was forced to be “all in” and come prepared with a craft or activity. I always felt refreshed when I left my sessions with Reese,” Scorsone said. “She was always such a sweetheart and helped me keep a bigger picture and take my mind off anything I was currently stressed about.
“We learned so much about each other throughout our time together — towards the end of our sessions she felt more like a little sister than a mentee. I am truly grateful for every second I got to spend with Reese, and I can’t wait to see everything she accomplishes in life!”
Their relationship was strong.
“I always loved that Reese would also ask me about different parts of my life as well,” Scorsone added. “It was very much a two-sided relationship.”
Scorsone also recognized and encouraged Reese’s strengths. “Reese would greatly excel in a career in the arts — whether it be singing, drama/acting or art — she is extremely gifted in these areas. Amazed at Reese’s talent, I have personally seen her perform in various orchestra concerts, drama plays, and vocal performances.”
Scorsone always went over and beyond for her mentee.
Mentors build relationships over activities and conversation.
“Each time we met, we always worked on a craft together. There were many times we painted with fruits or vegetables and Reese learned about many new kinds of fruits,” Scorsone said.
“We also took a picture at the end of each of our meetings, and towards the end of the year, we put together a scrapbook with all of the pictures and crafts from the past several months,” Scorsone added. “We would always end our meetings with a game of Hangman — she was always so creative with the sayings she came up with!”
BE A MENTOR
Scorsone encourages others to volunteer as mentors.
“Sometimes it seems stressful to add one more thing to your plate, especially for a busy college student like myself, but this has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my college career. If you think about the big picture, it truly isn’t that much time out of your week to plan an activity/spend a couple hours with them each week,” Scorsone said. “It’s so beneficial to see the transformation in the mentees' lives, and the relationships you establish are ones that are truly invaluable. If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve started mentoring much earlier in my college career.”
Scorsone said mentoring is a great way to become involved in the community and invest in the lives of those younger than you.
“I was mentored by several women who were older than me growing up, and the impact they had on my life is something I will always be grateful for and never forget,” Scorsone said. “I would love to be that person or continue being someone like that for someone else. You can learn so much from them — if not more than what they learn from you.”
The mentoring program is administered by the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative, a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. As part of her job, Woodrome also consults to begin and strengthen mentoring programs in Oklahoma.
“Grace Scorsone has been an exemplary mentor and role model,” Woodrome said. “Mentoring is a very high form of community service because it requires an investment of self with another over a period of time. In so many ways during her college career and mentoring, Grace has demonstrated discipline, focus, creativity, commitment and caring. Wherever she goes, she will make a significant difference in others’ lives.”
For more information about mentoring programs, contact Woodrome a 405-590-4063 or see www.okmentors.org.