Why Every Black Youth Needs a Mentor



Navigating the world as a Black youth is not to be taken lightly and often involves overcoming systemic obstacles or societal barriers. In such a landscape, having a guiding hand becomes not just beneficial but essential. Mentors serve as invaluable guides, providing insights and connections that may elude us. From navigating the complexities of university networks to discovering volunteer opportunities and internships, mentors provide crucial support in both professional and personal advancement.

NYMAC - Yasmine Elmi
Written by
Yasmine Elmi,
NYMAC member

Career advancement

One of the key advantages of mentorship lies in its ability to open doors to previously inaccessible opportunities. Many Black youth may find themselves unaware of potential career paths or lacking the connections necessary to pursue their ambitions. A mentor can bridge this gap, offering guidance, encouragement, and access to networks that can significantly enhance a young person’s prospects. Personally, I owe a significant portion of my academic and career achievements to the unwavering support and guidance of my mentors. Without their guiding hand, I am certain that my journey would have been far more challenging and less fruitful.

You might think finding a mentor is tough, but often they are closer than you think. Many Black teens find mentors organically within their family or social circles. For example, some of my earliest and strongest mentor relationships came from my family, like my aunt Roda. These natural mentorships are great because they’re built on existing trust and understanding. But, this approach does have a downside – it can limit you to your current network. When you’re aiming for something where you don’t have connections you can’t always rely on your immediate network.

My biggest piece of advice for those seeking mentors: Do your research! There are so many amazing people and programs out there that would love nothing more than to support you. As a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada’s National Youth Mentoring Advisory Council (NYMAC) and a Big Sister mentor, I can attest that it just takes one person believing in you to completely change your opportunities.

Beyond career advancement

While career advancement is undoubtedly a significant aspect of mentorship, its benefits extend far beyond the professional realm. Mentors also provide emotional support, guidance in decision-making, and encouragement during challenging times. For Black youth navigating societal pressures and systemic inequalities, having a mentor can make a profound difference in their personal development and overall well-being.

In a world where systemic barriers continue to hinder the progress of Black youth, mentorship emerges as a powerful tool for empowerment and advancement. By offering guidance, support, and access to opportunities, mentors play a crucial role in helping young individuals navigate the complexities of life and pursue their dreams. Every Black youth deserves the chance to thrive, and mentorship stands as a vital means of ensuring that no one is left behind.