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Paying It Forward: 

The Lenfest Mentor Program enters its second year

For years, Lenfest scholars have been expressing a desire to connect more closely with fellow scholars following similar paths.  Two Lenfest scholars created the Lenfest Mentor Program, which is about to enter its second year, to meet this need.  The goal of the program is to strategically pair scholars who can assist each other with choosing and applying to college or graduate school, choosing a career, and other professional and personal aspirations.

In its pilot year, twenty-nine Lenfest scholars were paired with fellow scholars who acted as mentors.  In follow-up surveys, both mentors and mentees mentioned the benefits of participating in a mentor-mentee relationship.  Several mentors mentioned that their decision to serve as a mentor was based on their desire to give back to the Lenfest community while mentees expressed appreciation for their mentors’ insights and willingness to answer questions.  Below, Marcus Cooley, a mentee, discusses his experience participating in the Lenfest Mentor Program last year:

Marcus Cooley.jpg

Marcus Cooley is a graduate of Waynesboro Area Senior High School and will be a freshman at Columbia University

My college admissions process was a lengthy one, and my mentor was one of my biggest supporters throughout the whole process. My parents attended college in the early 1980s, so although I am not "first-gen", I took on the Common Application with little background and a lot of questions. My mentor fielded these questions as best as she could and was a primary editor and reader for my many essays. She shared her experiences applying to undergraduate and graduate school and not only helped me pick the right schools to apply to, but also helped me rebound after receiving a rejection from my first choice. Coming from a similar environment, we discussed the difficulties rural students face when transitioning to highly competitive schools, and how to address them when I do make that leap.

Applying to college is not something to take on alone, and the Lenfest Mentor Program provides a resource for students going through this often rigorous process to learn from the advice of other students with recent experience. My mentor knew first-hand what she did right and wrong when applying to college and used this to help make the process easier for me.

The Lenfest Mentor Program is a great way for scholars of all ages and geographic locations to stay engaged with and give back to the Lenfest community. 

To participate in the program during the 2019-20 academic year, simply

complete the applicable Google survey(s):

I want to be a mentor:


High school student seeking college mentor:

College student seeking older mentor:

Please complete the appropriate survey(s) by 11:59 PM on Sunday, August 1, 2019. Mentor/mentee matches will be communicated via email on a later date in August. Please email Ashley at with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.


Ashley Green Gautam is a 2006 Lenfest College Scholar and a graduate of Ursinus College (B.A.) and the University of New England Online (M.S.Ed.).  She taught English in India on a Fulbright scholarship and currently teaches World Cultures at Northern High School in Dillsburg, PA.  Her husband teaches third grade in another district.  They are excited to welcome a second child to their family this August.

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