Meet Pittsburgh's National Mentoring Summit Fellow

Each year, MENTOR hosts the National Mentoring Summit in Washington, D.C. to convene mentoring professionals, researchers, MENTOR Affiliates, philanthropic investors and government and civic leaders with the goal of collectively strengthening and expanding quality mentoring relationships for young people across the country. 

As part of the Summit, MENTOR chooses several people from across the country to be part of the Summit Fellowship Program, a professional development and scholarship program for mentoring practitioners who are making a deep impact in the field.  We're so excited to share that Megan Sommers of Steel City Squash has been chosen as a Summit Fellow!  We caught up with Megan as she preps for the Summit in January to get her thoughts on what she's most looking forward to.

First off, tell us a little bit about Steel CIty Squash and your role there.
Steel City Squash is an academic and athletic program that provides life-changing opportunities to Pittsburgh area youth who desire and deserve more through education, mentoring, community service, travel and the sport of squash.  Our mission is to provide consistent, long-term and reliable support to students and their families.  By maintaining the highest standards, Steel City Squash encourages each student to reach his or her fullest potential on the court, in the classroom and in the community.  My roles at SCS are the Academic Director, Mentor Me Program Coordinator, Cultural Trip planner and social media specialist.  I check in with our students daily on their academic progress, work with teachers and administrator at their respective schools, and assist with nightly homework.  I am in charge of the Mentor Me program, I plan weekend trips for the students outside of Squash, and run all of our social media accounts.

What interested you about the Summit and inspired you to apply to be a National Mentoring Summit Fellow?
I was interested in the Summit because of the theme this year; "Building Relationships, Advancing the Movement.” I liked that this year’s workshops offer a versatile array of topics such as mentoring immigrant youth, how to make programmatic changes based on research and data, collective impact in the mentoring field and mentoring youth with mental health challenges. Working for a non-profit organization, I have a budget that I have to stretch over the span of our program year.  While this conference is not as expensive as some I have seen, I would rather use my budget for activities or experiences that the students would immediately and directly benefit from.  That is why I applied to be a National Mentoring Summit Fellow.

What are you looking forward to learning more about while attending the Summit?
I am really interested in learning how to get young men involved in mentoring more.  I feel that I am very strong at recruiting young ladies and young women professionals, but I know I lack in the area of young men and what they need in a good mentor.  I am looking forward to hearing the speakers from Chicago and Detroit talk about their programs that focus on young men.

If you've already registered, can you let us know what "track" and/or workshops you'll be attending?
I haven't registered officially yet, but I went through and made note of the most beneficial workshops for our program at Steel City Squash: Advocating for Mentoring African American Boys & Girls; Mentoring to Advance Diversity, Inclusion and Equity; Project MALES - Improving Outcomes for Men of Color; Fighting Racial Inequalities through Mentoring; Young Lives at Stake: An Evidence-Based Model for Engaging Youth with Mental Health Challenges.

How are you hoping to apply what you've learned at the Summit directly to your work back here in the 'Burgh? 
I am hoping this will strength my knowledge and role as an advocate for my students as they continue to age and grow.  I hope my voice will become louder as I continue to work on their behalf.

We'll catch up with Megan after the Summit to learn more about the workshops she attended.  In the meantime, click here for more information on the Summit or to register!