From Darkness to Light:
The Priceless Gift of Mentoring

Written by Rick Rapier

“Mentoring is very important to me,” says Jenifer Evans (MEd candidate). “The support that I received from the beginning and through my time at NCU has been such a positive experience.”

Jenifer Evans (MEd, Early Childhood Education, student)

And for a woman who had been traumatized by childhood sexual abuse yet who has triumphed over it thanks to mentoring – and the support of her sister and father – she speaks from her remarkable experience.

Her personal journey is why Evans has devoted herself not only to the mentoring process, both as a mentor and as a mentee, but also to championing mentoring’s “therapeutic” aspects. She has channeled it all into the organizations that have most helped her on her journey, first, the Children’s Alliance of Hawaii and, second, the Puahia Mentors program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. And, she counts her time with NCU as among her more positive experiences.

“Children’s Alliance was there for my family and me,” says Evans. “It the first place I could share my story without fear of judgment or questioning.”

“My sister also received a lot of support through their H.E.A.R.T. program where she befriended other survivors her age. My father received support from their Strengthening Parents support group. I received support through their Enhancements program. I learned how to trust others emotionally and with my body, how to make connections with other people, and how to enjoy being a kid!”

Mentee Becomes Mentor

Jenifer Evans ’15 MEd candidate with Pi Lambda Theta scholarship

As Evans matured out of Children’s Alliance, she wanted to continue supporting them. Having participated in acting classes they had sponsored, Evans saw a way to give back when she learned that pageants were a great way to win scholarships. So, with the Children’s Alliance as her platform, Evans became involved in both “Teen” and “Miss” pageants, through which she promoted the organization that had successfully mentored her. By having overcome a shattered self-image, Evans did well and gained the scholarship money to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

While working toward her BEd in Elementary & Early Childhood Education, Evans chose to become a mentor in the Puahia Mentors program. “I remembered my tough transition into college and I had gathered useful knowledge from my own explorations. For example, how to correctly drop a course… I learned the hard way and wanted to spare other students.”

“I remembered my tough transition into college and I had gathered useful knowledge from my own explorations. For example, how to correctly drop a course… I learned the hard way and wanted to spare other students.”

From there, Evans involvement in the College of Education Student Association naturally flowed. “I became involved during my junior year [when] I attended a student conference hosted by Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA).”

At the conference, Evans felt motivated by “a group of eager” College of Education students at her Hawaiian alma mater. At the conference, the students talked about what she could expect from the program and what she could do to prepare for its courses. But that’s when yet another opportunity presented itself, one she couldn’t resist pursuing.

Evans relates, “They also presented us with an opportunity to attend a national conference, ‘Bully Free Starts With Me.’” The event was sponsored by the NEA Student Program Connections Conference and was held in San Diego, California. “I applied to attend the conference through the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association Student Program and was lucky to be selected.”

Not only was Evans proud to attend the conference with seven others, she had the honor of representing her fellow future Hawaiian teachers there. And in addition to attending, her acting lessons paid off again as they had with her pageant involvement, when she was selected to role-play the part of a bully in front of 300 conference attendees. “It was a blast!” she recalls.

Master’s, Mentoring and Much More

Evans at the Miss TEEN Hawaii Pageant as Second Runner-Up

Having earned her bachelors in education, Evans gained a good deal of experience in diverse settings, first as a teacher’s aide at a private preschool, then as a student teacher for a fifth grade class in a public, Title I school, and finally student teaching in a kindergarten classroom at a public charter school. After a stint as a substitute teacher in a variety of schools for HiEmployment, Evans currently teaches a third grade class in a Title I school in Honolulu as a long-term substitute. She says she hopes to lead her own classroom full time next year.

Evans uses her opportunity as a substitute teacher to become very much involved in the goals and efforts of the NEA. Through the College of Education Student Association, a local chapter of the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association Student Program, Evans has become involved in community service such as Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii, political action and efforts to improve teacher quality. She also attended four national conferences and helped create a student conference in Hawaii. In 2013, she helped with a rally at the state capitol with teachers working for a new contract.

In addition to her work on behalf of teachers and the NEA, Evans has also gotten involved in working for gubernatorial candidates’ phone banks, and she helped refurbish two schools on the mainland, one in Denver and another in Atlanta. Evans continues to give of her time to Children’s Alliance of Hawaii as a mentor/big sister to girls the organization serves.

In addition to all of these important time commitments, Evans has begun the pursuit of a master’s degree in education at Northcentral University.

The Importance of Mentorship in Education

When asked why she chose Northcentral, Evans explained, “One-to-one instruction caught my eye. I can go at my own pace, which allows me to substitute and plan for life after my degree.”

“For a person to share their knowledge, in order for others to avoid mistakes, it is a priceless gift.”

But that’s not the only reason NCU attracted Evans: “As an NEA Academy member, I receive a preferred tuition rate. My education at NCU is cheaper than at a brick and mortar university, but my professors all hold doctorate degrees and have real-world experience.”

And so far, her experience has been second to none. Evans shared that her professors have given her “amazing feedback” that helps her grow. “Earning a masters isn’t an easy endeavor,” she admits, “but with the support that NCU provides, I am confident in my decision to pursue my degree here.”

Evans knows the benefit of the mentoring relationship, and recognizes the significance of that relationship in her educational experience. She explains: “For a person to share their knowledge, in order for others to avoid mistakes, it is a priceless gift.”