Ali has been with M2Y for 2 years. 9 years old (going on 10), he has lived on the Southside of Ypsilanti all his life. Living in a single-parent household being the only male child with three other siblings, Ali needed an outlet. First, he looked for it at school. Due to his accent, he struggled with word pronunciation and therefore was picked on, sometimes bullied by other children at school. It was different with Mentor2Youth though. Ali remembers his first day at the program sharing, “all the mentors were really nice to me and I appreciated it because most new people I have met are normally mean to me.”
“When he joined Mentor2Youth, at first he struggled to interact with other kids who participated in the program”, Ms. Devan recalled who has worked with Ali for two years as the site coordinator.
At one point, he was suspended from the program for two weeks for fighting a child (now his best friend). “It was the turning point for him I believe,” as Emmanuel, Executive Director for Mentor2Youth recalled this instance looking back on Ali’s time with the program. Ali’s mother shared that during the time Ali was suspended, Devan and Emmanuel made regular home visits to speak with him about life and learn more about his struggles at school and created a Motivated Action Plan (MAP) to support him in managing his stress in addition to tips and tools for relationship building and socializing with his peers.
Now, two years with M2Y, the staff and his mother feel major growth has occurred. Ali sees it too. “I have learned how to be nice, gotten better at math and learned about engineering [robotics and computer science]”. Ms. Devan shared, “You can always rely on Ali to spark debate or speak his mind.” A love for science, Ali remembers his fieldtrip with M2Y to the Natural History Museum at U-M. As volunteers shared, Ali was spitting out various facts about different dinosaurs that were on display.
Ali is now on track, he sees the value of Mentor2Youth for kids like him. “They support [a lot] of people and help you with your anger like me, it’s almost gone, and help you become smarter.” Recently participating in a new STEM series M2Y facilitated in partnership with U-M, it cemented his future career aspirations that staff will ensure he attains. “I am going to become an engineer and make the world a better place.” Knowing this makes his mother very proud.