Mentor Pair Highlight
Point Scholar Jacob Rostovsky | Alan Guno
Point’s Mentoring Program means more to me than any other aspect of the scholarship award. Of course the funds are wonderful, and meeting other scholars has allowed me to enhance my family, but the Mentoring Program has given me something I could have never imagined having. I’m thankful for my mentor Alan, and I am so grateful to be paired with someone who completely understands me, and is there for me 120% of the time.
Alan is always honest, and he’s always supportive. I think that what has been most helpful is his ability to keep me motivated. With his honesty, he allows me to pick goals that I know are attainable, and then he is there the whole time to help me reach them. I have learned simple things, such as time management and organization. But I have also learned how to approach difficult tasks, and how to handle unforeseen problems.
If someone were to ask me what we’ve done to achieve a successful mentoring relationship, I think it would be our commitment to meet once a week. I know that not every pair has a chance to do this in person, but even simply texting each other once a week or talking on the phone makes me feel like he is there for me no matter how busy his schedule is.
Through my mentorship with Alan, I have learned how to really push myself. I’ve seen an incredible amount of confidence grow within myself. He has helped me feel like I can achieve anything as long as I put my mind to it. Most importantly, he has taught me that if I need help, it’s okay to ask. By asking for help, and having someone be there to guide me through something difficult doesn’t mean I’m any less capable or strong. It’s also very nice to have someone there sharing my triumphs and accomplishments as they happen.
I reached a turning point in my life when Proposition 8 passed in California in 2008. It made me realize that these battles would only be won when each of us would take personal responsibility for creating change. It became so much more important to me to find ways to give back to my LGBT family. And when I found Point – with its goals planted in the foundations of advocacy, young leaders, and education – I knew I had found an organization which had an inspiring approach that I believe in.
As with any relationship, each mentor/mentee pair can find the personal way that is best for engaging each other. I think Jake and I both benefited from having a consistent expectation for meeting regularly and in person. This was especially important in the first few months. Eating together (IHOP and Canter’s Deli seem to be our most frequent places!) allows us the chance to get together without being too distracted. And while we can now certainly engage in other ways, I believe it’s still important to make that time for us to just talk and listen.
Jake is wonderfully communicative, and that helps me to know what is going on in his life. Our mentees lives are often very busy with studying, family, friends, school activities, and their advocacy work. Jake telling me about his activities/priorities allows me to get a feel for how he’s doing. This tells me whether there is a lot of stress, or what great things are occurring, and if there is an opportunity to assist him.
I say this all the time, but it continually rings true: I may be the “mentor” and Jake may be the “mentee”, but I am the one who is learning the most from this relationship! Jake is an amazing advocate for the transgender and gender non-conforming community. Before I met him, I only knew a few people who were transgender, but didn’t really have much understanding of the “T” in our LGBT family or the unique experiences they face. Because of Jake and the world he has opened up to me, I find myself able to begin engaging as an ally for this community, as well as to make some wonderful new friends.
There is a lot in the world today that can cause the LGBT community to be fearful. Whether one is concerned about elections, legislation, court judgments, bullying, suicides, or societal/cultural discrimination, it can often be a bit depressing to be an LGBT person. But as a result of my mentorship with Jake, I get a glimpse of what the future will look like. I get the opportunity to see the strength of a generation that will make extraordinary gains in the fight for true equality. I get to see Jake’s enthusiasm, his confidence, and his action. That changes me. He changes how I see the future and he convinces me that I should be optimistic. When it all comes down to it, Jake gives me the reason to believe. Jake gives me hope.