In celebration of National #MentoringMonth, we sat down with David Cumpston (they/them), ’19, a current AmeriCorps Success Coordinator at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. As part of the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI), Cumpston supports student employees through the extended learning mentorship after-school program provided to students at Bailey Gatzert. Launched in 2011, the Seattle University Youth Initiative unites the University and the wider Seattle community to develop successful youth, thriving communities and an engaged neighborhood. The Youth Initiative strives to strengthen education and support systems for 1,000 neighborhood youth and their families while enhancing the University by providing service, learning and research experience for students, faculty, and staff. SUYI student employees partner with local programs, schools and educators in the wider Seattle community to provide programming that encourages critical thinking and supports the pursuit of college and career paths. SU student employees provide families and youth with academic support, enrichment activities and mentoring.
According to a study commissioned by MENTOR, there are significant positive outcomes for youth that interact with a mentor, including an increased likelihood of aspirations to attend and enroll in college, participation in sports, taking on leadership roles and regularly volunteering in their communities. Cumpston was transformed by their time working with youth as a student, so when the opportunity to continue working as a mentor in a different capacity arose, they jumped at the opportunity. “When I was working directly with scholars at Bailey Gatzert, I enjoyed seeing their growth. In this role, I get to see the growth of Seattle U students while simultaneously witnessing the growth of youth we work with,” said Cumpston.
Cumpston has focused on personal growth, creating a safe space, professional development and challenging student employees to reach their full potential. “It has been nice to see how SU students have built relationships with others on their teams, how their confidence has grown, how they have chosen to take the lead on projects and how they are building relationships with youth at Bailey Gatzert.”
Cumpston has their own mentors who influenced their current path. 90% of young adults with a mentor eventually become interested in becoming a mentor. “Jaycee Coleman and former AmeriCorps members Melissa Bacon, ’19, and Ruth Yohannes, ’19, inspired me to take this position. I loved watching them work with staff and scholars at Bailey Gatzert and seeing how much joy it brought to them and the community.”
Despite the pandemic, the mission of a mentor continues through technology and intentional engagement. SU student employees have continued their mentorship remotely and Cumpston has kept up with their student employees virtually. “I have been intentional with time and have leveraged our support system to continue the same personalized level of respect and understanding that we used to have in person,” said Cumpston. This experience has made them realize where their passion lies, working in collaboration and working with others for the greater good. “I have loved the relationships that I have built with SU student employees and team leads who have helped do a lot of outreach. Seeing how they took on leadership roles was incredible.”
If you’re still on the fence about mentoring a student, Cumpston’s advice is to just do it. They admitted to being nervous and unsure about the position, but realized throughout the process that it was a worthwhile investment and their position in this role was “meant to be.”
Become a mentor for fellow alumni or current students by joining Redhawk Landing. Seattle University’s mentoring and networking platform opens doors for students and alumni alike, connecting them to a powerful online resource where Seattle University's community members can build purposeful connections and mentoring relationships.