Tiffany St. Bernard: Mentoring Many

 

Studies show that humans are immediately impressionable from the time they are born. We use the actions and experiences of others to guide our own behavior; if we witness an individual benefit from an activity, we are likely to emulate them. Social psychologist Albert Bandura describes this phenomenon as the Social Learning Theory, also known as modeling. Humans are constantly surrounded by models, both good and bad. Positive role models are perhaps one of the biggest contributors to a student’s success. Witnessing others succeed and receiving encouragement from these individuals inspires us to persevere, even when it seems impossible to overcome our challenges.

Tiffany St. Bernard is a triumphant biology major, who has completed a variety of research and plans to enroll in medical school within the next few years. Her success is rooted in her determination, will, and the positive influences of those around her. Tiffany gleams the image of a typical prosperous UConn student. However, there is one detail that sets this senior apart from the majority of the student body – she never went to high school. Tiffany was a competitive figure skater from a very young age. She trained with Olympic champions and coaches, and had plans to compete in the Olympics herself. Her training schedule was so vigorous that she did not have time to attend high school. When her dreams were stopped short, she created a new aspiration – college. Tiffany was determined to catch up academically, and spent hours upon hours to achieve that goal.

She attributes her motivation to her mentors and says, “I wouldn’t be anywhere without role models.” The positive individuals in Tiffany’s life have had such a huge impact that she decided to establish a new-age non-profit organization built on influencing the lives of others. She and UConn graduate student Keshia Ashe have founded ManyMentors, which allows college students to mentor middle- and high-school children via video conferencing, emailing, and other technologies. The unique method of mentoring allows individuals to positively guide others without interfering with their typical busy college schedules. Tiffany and Keshia have started the organization at UConn, but hope to eventually incorporate a chapter throughout universities nationwide. It is truly inspirational to see such a driven student be so intent on helping the lives of others. Tiffany always has a smile on her face and her sincerity is evident through all her actions.  She told me she strives to one day be a good role model to those around her. Little does she know, she already is.

For more information on ManyMentors, visit manymentors.org. I loved the idea of this organization so much, that I applied to be a part of the program. Even with my busy schedule, I know finding time to mentor someone else will not only benefit them, but will have a wonderful impact on my life as well. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to get involved!