A DREAM OF COLLEGE
A warm, sun-drenched kitchen, flour-dusted countertops, warm tortillas fresh from the cast-iron skillet and ceramic bowls practically spilling over with carefully measured ingredients – these are some of Carlos Rodriguez Rios’s fondest memories. The moments he spent as a child helping his grandmother in her small kitchen made a lasting impact on the man Carlos is today. He credits his mother and grandmother with inspiring him to study culinary arts. Now in his second year in the Culinary Program at Phoenix College (PC), Carlos once again spends his days learning cooking techniques and practicing his skills; learning in Café Oso, PC’s culinary kitchen. He dreams of one day owning his own restaurant or being the head chef at a five-star resort.
NO MONEY; NO TIME
But Carlos’s dreams might have remained dreams if not for receiving much-needed financial support. To pay for tuition, Carlos cooks at Raising Canes, a local restaurant. Though he works nearly full-time, he is unable to make enough money to pay for both tuition and living expenses. Carlos is ineligible for federal financial aid or student loans, but he is able to pursue his dream of becoming a chef thanks to private scholarships.
The Phoenix College Alumni Association (PCAA) created the Bear Scholarship Program to help high-achieving, financially-struggling students like Carlos. In his first year of college, Carlos was selected to be a Bear Scholar. In addition to receiving scholarships each semester, Bear Scholars commit to service hours with the PCAA and are matched with an alumni mentor. The mentor’s goal is to support the student through their studies, be a sounding board, and give career or work-related advice. Carlos was matched with 1985 alumnus and PCAA Hall of Fame Honoree, Don Jensen-Bobadilla. While Don and Carlos have a great rapport and enjoy working together, it is not always easy to find time in their busy schedules to meet in person. This has not stopped them from staying in constant contact. Don and Carlos recently sat down to share their story:
How long have you been in this mentor/mentee relationship?
We are currently on our third semester.
How did you decide to keep in touch via Snapchat?
Both our schedules were so crazy that we opted to try social media as a way to stay in touch and it worked out great!
How has Snapchat allowed you to connect as a mentor/mentee?
[Don] We are able to stay connected at any time of day. I get to see all the amazing foods & desserts Carlos is making in his culinary classes, and I can respond back and remind him of upcoming alumni activities and events, early/priority registration, etc. [Carlos] Don wishes me luck with my exams and I can quickly let him know how I did after them. We can open our messages to each other on our own time.
Carlos, what was the most inspirational or helpful snap that Don sent you?
[Carlos] There was this one Snapchat after I told him I was selected to continue in the Bear Scholar Program. He sent me a Snapchat saying how absolutely proud he was to be mentor and to keep up the great job.
Don, what does mentoring a student do for you? How has it impacted your life in a positive way?
[Don] It provides a way to guide students with their studies, or provide them connections or contacts with their goals and inquiries. I have a new friend (Carlos) for one, and two, it is a great feeling knowing that you helped a student, in a small way, reach for their educational and career goals they’ve set and seeing the progress in your mentee is all worthwhile. Go Carlos!
Do you see this mentoring relationship continuing after Carlos graduates?
[Don] Yes, I do and would like to continue serving as a mentor after he graduates to see where he lands his dream job as an executive chef in a fancy-schmancy five star restaurant! I’m proud of you Carlos.
[Carlos] Hopefully we can stay in touch; Don's been a great mentor!
As technology has become more prevalent, the idea of what it is to be a mentor is changing. Today, mentoring is less about how much physical time is spent with a mentee, and more about the relationship-building and constant connection that can be achieved through social media. These connections have brought Don and Carlos closer as a team. They are both working to ensure Carlos graduates on time with his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. Both Don and Carlos see this relationship continuing after Phoenix College. Carlos is currently on track to graduate from Phoenix College with an Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Studies in May, 2017.
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To mentor a student like Carlos, contact the alumni coordinator at email@example.com or 602-285-7652 to learn more.