The Intern Becomes the Mentor — 2

For an advisor, it is a huge feeling of accomplishment and pride when we see our students doing well after high school.  I had the pleasure of working with two advisories, from 2005 – 2011, before I took on the position of internship coordinator at the Met.  Mentor, Ruby Ávila, is an alumna from my 2nd advisory.

I first met Ruby in the fall of 2009.  She really wanted to be in my advisory, so much so that she had her then boyfriend tell me that they really wanted to be in my advisory. (I now make fun of her for that.) Long story short, I blessed her with the most amazing gift of being in my advisory.  I consider Ruby one of “my kids.” She has been a student that I have kept in contact with throughout the years. When I was informed that she offered an internship to a current Met student, Yovana Gil (10th grader in Xico’s advisory), I was more than pleased. I felt very proud that one of “my kids” was now a mentor. And the most exciting part of it all is that the internship is at Sol Collective (Sol), which was Ruby’s internship when she was Yovana’s age.

Ruby joined Sol as a student intern in her 10th grade year of high school. She took a break and became my intern during her 11th grade year, and then got sick of me and returned to Sol for her senior year. If you have been living under a rock, and do not know about Sol, you should really check it out. They are an Arts, Culture, and Social Justice non-profit that puts a lot of focus on youth. They put on many events, and programs for youth and adults in the community. Ruby’s mentor at the time, Estella Sánchez (Director of Sol), was impressed by Ruby and trusted her. She allowed Ruby to be involved in just about everything, from the ground up. Ruby’s time at Sol did not end when she left for college. She stayed in contact with Estella, and the staff at Sol. Ruby continued to volunteer at Sol, and even did a bit of paid consulting; she was contracted to do social media projects and participate in events.

UC, Santa Cruz was quite an experience for Ruby. She was living away from her family for the first time, and away from the only community she had ever known. However, Ruby found family and community in college, which is something that helped her stay focused. When she was offered the position of Field Assistant to the field manager of a 30-acre organic farm, she felt right at home. One of Ruby’s major projects while an intern at Sol was to make gardens in low-income areas. Food justice became one of Ruby’s passions, and she continued nurturing that passion throughout her college career. She enjoyed the hands-on labor intensity of working a farm. Ruby is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and believes that if you love what you do, getting out of bed in the morning is not so difficult. (Although, between you and I, Ruby is mean in the morning.)

As I mentioned before, Ruby stayed in contact with Estella Sánchez and the staff at Sol. Because she fostered those relationships, they never forgot her. After graduating from UC, Santa Cruz, with degrees in Anthropology and Education, Ruby was offered a job at Sol as Executive Assistant. She enjoys the work she does, although it is now in the office. Ruby is aware that her strengths are not limited to hands-on labor, but she is a big picture thinker and can organize and manage systems. Her skills and attributes make for a great mentor, and her understanding of the Met is why we are fortunate she agreed to be a mentor.

Since the start of the fall semester of 2017, Yovana Gil has interned for Sol Collective under the direction of Ruby. I asked Ruby what motivated her to offer Yovana an internship. Her response was, “I know the benefits of being here at Sol, and interacting with a multitude of people. I was shy back then, and this was something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wanted to offer that to someone.” According to Ruby, the projects at Sol can help an intern gain so many skills. Ruby enjoys being Yovana’s mentor, and understands what it is like to be an intern. She identified three struggles she herself remembers having at Yovana’s age: 1) transportation; 2) managing time; and 3) communicating. Ruby can relate and empathize, and had vowed to make herself available. She believes that the most important thing is to be flexible with her intern, and to communicate and check in often. Ruby says, “In order to get her comfortable with communicating, I need to communicate.” I could not agree more!

We are fortunate that Ruby, as well as over 200 other mentors, serve as excellent role models for our students. What they offer our students is invaluable, and that is their time, attention, and knowledge.  Thank you, Ruby! I had a great time chatting with you. I am so proud of the adult you have become and are becoming.





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