Make a Difference in your Community—Be a Mentor!

Make a Difference in your Community—Be a Mentor!

Holly Vincent
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 12:00 AM
Community, All

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Do you have an extra hour a month and want to make a difference in your community? Now’s your chance! Be a Tennessee Promise mentor!

According to Graham Thomas, Deputy Director of Engagement and Partnerships of tnAchieves, Bradley County has only found 58 of the 160 Tennessee Promise mentors needed for the program.  “Cleveland State has really led the way,” stated Thomas. “And we would like business and industry to rise to the challenge, as well. To his credit, Gary Farlow at the Chamber has also been a great partner.”

Thomas continued, “Most of the students that use Tennessee Promise are the first in their family to attend college, and we know the process can be intimidating and frustrating. Mentors provide the encouragement and gentle nudges students need to be successful in their transition from high school to college.”

 Tracey Wright, CSCC Assistant to the President for Special Programs and Community Relations, has been a mentor since the start of the tnAchieves program before it was Tennessee Promise. “I am a believer that I am standing on the shoulders of a lot of people who helped me in my journey, and I know how much receiving a college education has changed my life, so I see this as a way to give back to someone else.”

Wright was  worried about the time commitment at first, but quickly came to realize that it averages 45 minutes to one hour on the months without team meetings, and the months with team meetings (two a year), it averages less than two hours—less than the amount of time she said she would spend shopping over the weekend!

            To become a mentor, there are several steps you must follow:

●          Apply online by December 1
●          Complete mandatory mentor training by February 15
●          Attend first mentor / student meeting in March / April
●          Attend second mentor / student meeting in October
●          Contact students at least once every two weeks from the following March through

For Wright, mentoring has been a humbling experience. Some of her greatest moments have been hearing back from some of the students she has mentored that she has made a difference in their lives—that the advice she has given them was helpful to them. She is already looking forward to this commencement season to celebrate with one of her students she mentored who will be graduating in the spring.

“You can’t give up on them if they don’t respond to you right away. You are reaching them. You can’t get your feeling hurt easily. You ever know which ones of them are paying attention to you. I joke about this when I’m trying to recruit others. I wish I could say that every student that I have been assigned is just waiting by their phone on baited breath waiting on my call or my text or my email that I have thought long and hard about, but the reality is that there are some students that I rarely if ever hear from, but I try not to let that deter me to keep me from doing what I think is a worthwhile and important service.”

According to Wright, the tnAchieves team makes it easy for all the mentors by providing them with weekly emails of what to share with students. They introduce mentors to a wealth of experts from the college who can assist them should they have any questions about the application or financial aid process.

Wright said, “If you see a need in the community in which you live, whether its Bradley county, Meigs, McMinn, Monroe or Polk, for having a better educated workforce, if you see that need on the state level or the federal level, this is an easy way that you can play a role in helping Tennessee, helping the United States, or helping your county turn that situation around.”

For more information on becoming a mentor, contact Graham Thomas by emailing him at or visit


Partners & Initiatives

  • Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator
  • America's SBDC Tennesseey
  • Your Skills. Your Future.
  • OneSource
  • Cleveland State Sustainability Initiative
  • TBR The College System of Tennessee
  • TN eCampus
  • Tennessee Transfer Pathway