More Than Academics: Imani Christou-Fuller
My name is Imani Christoufuller – I’m a sophomore at Boston Arts Academy and I’m excited to share a bit of my story with you.
I have always struggled with math and science growing up. In my freshman year, I was struggling when it came to understanding my math and physics assignments. When my teacher noticed how much I struggled, she offered the opportunity to get help from an academic mentor. I agreed, expecting to just get help in academics, but I got so much more. I was not expecting to get help with my future career, organization, and personal guidance.
When my mentor Brian and I first met, instead of starting work right away, he took the time to get to know me. This made it feel like a safe space to grow. I knew that whatever I said, would not be judged. Because of this, I was not afraid to ask questions or to say “I don’t know.” Whenever I told Brian that I was struggling he said that it was okay and paused the lesson to go over what I was confused about. This made math and science so much more clear for me. This style of teaching, pausing to make sure I get each part right, really fit my learning style.
As we got to know each other better and started talking more and learning more about each other, I talked about some of my aspirations for my future career. I explained how architecture has always been very interesting to me. I never really considered it as a career option because I wasn’t sure if it was something I would enjoy or excel at. Especially since I felt like I wasn’t particularly good at drawing. However, when I told Brian about my interest in architecture, he encouraged me to learn more about it. In our next meeting, he learned the basics of perspective drawing so that he could pass that knowledge on to me. As I practiced drawing with Brian and at home by myself, my skill started to improve and I became more confident in my drawing skills.
“When my teacher noticed how much I struggled, she offered the opportunity to get help from an academic mentor. I agreed, expecting to just get help in academics, but I got so much more. I was not expecting to get help with my future career, organization, and personal guidance.”
Sophomore, Boston Arts Academy
At the end of freshman year, I was discouraged by my grades. When I told brian that my grades weren’t that good, he told me not to worry and that I have a lot of time to improve my grades. He also shared how his grades were not perfect when he was younger either. We returned to talking about my career and started looking up the required GPA for colleges that I’m interested in. Based on those required GPAs, we set some short term goals to help me achieve those long term goals. This was really motivating for me.
One of the main reasons for my struggles in math and science was my lack of organization. I had a really hard time organizing my materials for class. I would often get distracted because of this. Brian talked about strategies to help being more organized and we are continuing to have these conversations about organization. He told me that he also struggles with organization and told me some strategies that help him stay organized. He reassured me that, even though he is in the middle of his PhD, he still struggles with keeping things organized and that it’s ok to still be on the path of growth.
“When my mentor Brian and I first met, instead of starting work right away, he took the time to get to know me. This made it feel like a safe space to grow. I knew that whatever I said, would not be judged. Because of this, I was not afraid to ask questions or to say ‘I don’t know.'”
Sophomore, Boston Arts Academy
My high school experience started in the middle of a pandemic. It was difficult for me to learn because I couldn’t really pay attention to my zoom classes. One second I’d be engaged in the lesson, and the next I would realize that I’ve been zoned out for the past 20 minutes. Having one on one mentoring sessions was helpful during this time because Brian was able to notice when I was zoning out and redirect and refocus me. Or, if I had a sudden thought about something unrelated, he would allow me to take the time to talk about it and get it out of my head before returning back to our work. Once I returned to my work, I was more ready to be engaged and focused. Even though he was good at being a mentor over Zoom, I am really happy to finally, after 2 years, have met him in person today!
I hope my story has shown the benefits that a great mentoring relationship can provide. I really look forward to continuing my growth and reaching even higher goals with my mentor.