CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Last week, we told you January is National Mentoring Month and locally, the C-U One to One program is in dire need of more mentors. But some are answering that call while others are benefitting from the program as mentee graduates.

One example is Godelieve Tshimanga, a Parkland College sophomore. Since graduating from the program as a mentee, she’s now receiving $2,000 each semester to further her education. That opportunity has only led Tshimanga to encourage her friends to consider the same experience. Her little sister included.

“My little sister’s mentor is doing the same for her. One she’s better than me already but just seeing her building that relationship makes my heart smile because that’s something you’re going to remember forever. I could never forget Sarah.”

Sarah has been Tshimanga’s mentor for six and a half years now. In that time, their friendship has only been further solidified. It’s an experience Tshimanga cherishes dearly, which even led her to pursue her last job as a Youth Development Specialist.

“You can’t set too high of expectations if they don’t have the proper guidance. I don’t want to say we’re to blame but we have to take the extra step, the extra initiative because they need us. They need to be molded, they need to create better paths than what we created for ourselves.”

Mike Ingram, a mentor at Central High School for five years, echoes that mentality as well. As a board member for C-U One to One, he witnessed local kids passionately longing for their own mentors. It was that moment he decided to bring more awareness to the need for more positive leaders to guide our youth.

“This is not the magic cure all for every problem. But it helps so much with the kids that just need somebody. A lot of them don’t have adults that will listen to them or are around. People are working three jobs, it’s not always the parent is neglectful. Sometimes it’s just the parents don’t have a lot of time or there’s multiple kids in the picture.”

With that being the case for some families, there are individuals stepping up to provide support to their youth. That includes Shayonna Reid who recently joined the mentoring program about two months ago. Reid also works at the U-of-I, so she has ties to youth in our area.

For Reid, it’s not just about providing mentorship like she does for her mentee Brooklyn Turner at Booker T. Washington. She also felt charged to present a sense of familiarity for the students who are minorities too.

“We need more mentors, mainly those that look like me because it’s a need. There’s a lot going on in the community, things have changed. You see a lot of things going on in schools from elementary to high school. Just people like me to develop relationships with kids.”

For more on the C-U One to One scholarship opportunities and how your child can qualify, click here.

To learn more about the C-U One to One mentor program, click here.

You can also find the application process to become a mentor here as well.