College Bound: Mentors Needed Now

Sybil Topel, MFA, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce

Once I reached high school all my Mother talked about was how great college would be. There was never any question that I would attend. Mother's side of the family produced several generations of teachers and educators – it seemed like all we knew was teaching and farming.

On my Dad's side of the family, my first cousins seemed to be in a race to see who could collect the most post-graduate degrees. Lack of resources did not stop us from setting these higher education goals. We scraped together scholarships, filled out FAFSA forms and sought summer jobs to make it happen. Failure was NOT an option.

Such an incredible support system I had – and did not realize it until long after I graduated. (Thank you Mom, Dad, Papa Hubie, GrandMyrtle and Grandma & Grandpa McLain.)

Last year, my boss said he mentored high school students who needed a few reminders about admission deadlines and the like. He said it was easy and would take very little time – and he promised it would generate a huge payoff. I listened, but I put it off. I was busy with Leadership Chattanooga, I was busy learning my new job, I was busy, busy, busy.

Not this year. This year, I'm committed to making a difference.

A few moments ago, I signed up. I'll keep you posted on how this works. My first training session will last a grand total of one hour – a lunch break – at Chattanooga State Community College. I can swing that.

Won't you join me on this journey?

Tennessee Promise Mentor Sign Up

Mentors Needed for TN Promise Students

tnAchieves, partnering organization for Governor Bill Haslam’s TN Promise, seeks volunteers to serve as mentors for the program’s third class of students. 

TN Promise offers every high school senior the opportunity to attend — tuition free — one of our state’s 13 community colleges or 27 colleges of applied technology.

The program pairs each applicant with a volunteer mentor to ease the transition from high school to college. Mentors spend about one hour per month reminding students of deadlines, serving as a trusted resource and encouraging students to reach their full potential.  The time commitment is small, but the impact can be life changing.

Learn more at

As of Oct. 31, 2016, Hamilton County needed 197 more mentors to reach the goal of 387.

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