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  • Writer's pictureCarey Tate

John Abbott's SOAR mentorship initiative hopes to empower students from racialized communities.

On November 20, John Abbott College (JAC) staff members, students, and distinguished visitors convened for the inaugural event of the SOAR (Success through Opportunities and Representation) mentorship initiative.


The program's goal is to provide mentorship to students from racialized communities. It was made possible by a Bell Let's Talk grant, which the College received at the start of 2023. Students are matched with an outside mentor who also comes from a racialized community.

In photo from left to right: Sheldon Lewis (Social Work Technician, Counselling, JAC), Patricia Paul (SOAR Mentor), Chloe Nzigamabaso (SOAR mentee), Mayar Abbasi (SOAR Mentor), Marjolaine Lachance (Senior Manager, Community Investment-Communications, Bell Canada), Christian Diaz (SOAR Mentor).


"SOAR is a program that opens doors by providing opportunities and guidance to racialized students who may not see themselves represented in different jobs, careers, or fields. It is a new beginning and a chance to access doors that have been usually closed. This is a hand-up, not a handout." -Sheldon Lewis & Sharon Mahbeer, Social Work Technicians -Counselling, John Abbott College.

Mentors offer mentees encouragement and guidance that is tailored to their experiences. They will assist the students in setting objectives, prioritizing their actions in navigating post-secondary life, and identifying any obstacles they may encounter. Mentees hope to gain more confidence in their identities and abilities to succeed. Mentors can also benefit from a renewed commitment to learning, sense of community within the school, and a level of engagement in education.


The program is fully in motion, with 13 mentors and mentees matched and collaborating. For the upcoming semesters, the emphasis is on increasing program momentum and pairing more students with mentors.

SOAR Mentor Shreya Udupa, a JAC alumna and current McGill medical student, shared her passion for the project: "My goal as a mentor is to provide support, guidance, and a listening ear to BIPOC students. Throughout my academic and personal journey, I've been fortunate to have mentors with whom I got to build meaningful relationships, and I hope to do the same. I truly believe that by working together, we can navigate challenges, celebrate achievements, and work toward a future where every student can succeed. Let's SOAR together!"

PHOTO/SOURCE: John Abbott College 

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