Nazgol became a mentor at IntoUniversity Nottingham West in 2018 when she first started at the University of Nottingham and mentored the same student, Shania, until she finished university in 2022.
I remember feeling simultaneously excited and nervous before my first meeting, but the nerves quickly faded away as I stepped into the centre, as it had a welcoming atmosphere and felt like a real safe space. Shania and I instantly connected, which is a real testament to how carefully IntoUniversity members of staff think about matching mentoring pairs. Over the four years of our mentoring journey, we built a fantastic relationship with one another. It was amazing to see Shania grow academically and socially throughout the years, and to be able to aid her in this growth.
I have so many great memories of mentoring and I’ve got a huge smile on my face as I’m typing this and thinking about them. A particular highlight was when we drafted a letter to Shania’s college about the reasons why they should do more to celebrate Black History Month. We also played a lot of chess – I don’t think I’ll ever play chess again without thinking about our mentoring meetings. Shania nearly always won. In our final year of mentoring, we talked a lot about how to apply to university, the UCAS process, how to fund university, and we booked her onto multiple open days. We had a habit of always running over time as we never wanted our meetings to end!
At the end of every academic year, we were invited to mentoring celebrations, which were always so much fun and made me feel really valued as a mentor. At our first mentoring celebration, we gave a speech about our positive mentoring experiences.
One of the goals that we had been working towards was building Shania’s confidence, so I felt extremely proud that she had spoken so confidently to such a large crowd. At our second mentoring celebration, we won an award for the longest mentoring meeting. At our final celebration (pictured above), we dressed up and the smiles on our faces say it all.
Like many students, I entered university not knowing exactly what I wanted to do afterwards. Mentoring made me realise that I wanted to continue working with young people as I enjoyed it so much and gained such valuable skills from it; skills that still benefit me today. I equally grew in confidence and my communication skills were also improved as, when helping Shania with her homework or with exam revision, I was required to convey concepts in simpler ways which would facilitate her learning.
Going to the centre for mentoring was always a highlight of my week – not only because of my mentee, but also because of the wonderful staff at IntoUniversity, who always made me feel valued and welcomed. They took the time to get to know me and made me feel like I was part of the team. They also provided me with lots of guidance both before and during mentoring; meaning I always felt supported. I could tell that IntoUniversity would be a great place to work and was therefore ecstatic when I found out about the graduate scheme.
To anyone who is thinking of volunteering whilst at university, I have one piece of advice: do it! I can’t recommend it enough. It was fantastic to build a valuable relationship with a young person and to have an impact on their life.
If you are interested in volunteering with IntoUniversity, like Nazgol, visit our volunteering pages here.