Monday, May 14, 2018

Mentorship Success


A perfect fit. That’s how May graduate Evangelina Covarrubias and her Collegiate Challenge mentor, Melinda Van Paasschen, see their yearlong-plus partnership at Spring Woods High School.

Just days ago, this successful match resulted in big Spring Woods Tiger news – Evangelina received a Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Scholarship, valued at more than $20,000.

Evangelina was paired her junior year with Ms. Van Paasschen, a former educator. The SBISD Collegiate Challenge program helps match interested area adults with high school juniors and seniors.

Together, students and adult volunteers work through career interests, college or university applications and essays, and scholarship opportunities. So far, program students have all gained college entry and most have attended their college picks after graduation. Collegiate Challenge operates at four SBISD high schools.

It worked for Evangelina. “We are both perfectionists. It was so great that I found someone who matched my outlook and effort to be the best I could possibly be,” the Class of 2018 graduate said recently.

She ranked among the top 15 of all Spring Woods seniors, loved performing in the varsity choir, and volunteered in the community after Hurricane Harvey’s flooding aftermath.

Evangelina will study at Sam Houston State University this fall with two majors in mind – criminal justice and psychology. Her mentor guided her to the two areas.

She knew about law enforcement – her mom, dad, uncle and a grandfather were police officers – but a high school forensic science course made her think about a career combining law enforcement and psychology studies.

Evangelina and Ms. Van Paasschen evaluated her interests. “By doing research with my mentor, I came to realize that criminal justice is something that I want to do,” Evangelina said.

The two also worked together on her essays and how the Tiger senior might present herself to colleges and scholarship officials. She has received small scholarships, too, and is still waiting to hear back on other scholarship bids.

“Evangelina is a self-starter,” said Ms. Van Paasschen, a 16-year educator who taught English at Spring Woods High. “We worked well together, and it’s been a good fit. We tweaked her essays, bit by bit, each time boosting them up.”

“I do love writing so this is a great volunteer job for me, and I do believe that it is important to help students who may not have help from an adult at home. If you are truly interested in having an impact on a young person’s life, then Collegiate Challenge is the right thing to try.”

To learn more about SBISD’s plentiful opportunities to volunteer or mentor, call SBISD Community Relations at 713-251-2286.

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