Mentors and mentees
“My mentor helps me the most when she meets with me on the weekend and combines laughter and stories with writing. She has changed my perception of what writing is and what it means, so that now I can genuinely say that it comes to me like breathing, and it’s all because of her.”– Meghan McCullough, mentee
Women passionate about writing are the cornerstone of Girls Write Now. Our mentees grow as the rigor and flexibility of our structure turns a one-to-one relationship into a two-way street.
Our mentees are stunningly diverse teen girls from all five boroughs of New York City: 90% are girls of color; 20% are immigrants. Of all the girls we serve, 66% are living at or below the poverty level, and 90% are categorized as high-need.
Our mentors are professional women writers who stand as shining, real-life examples of exactly who their girls can be as women and as writers. They hail from across the greater New York metro area, and 40% are women of color.
With their mentors, our mentees tackle everything from adapting their writing for the digital age to applying for college. Over time, they become mentors to each other, exchanging new skills, demonstrating creative leadership in our workshops, winning national writing awards, and engaging more fully with their own communities.
Mentor and Mentee Profiles
Mentees and mentors become crit partners, collaborators, and lifelong friends. Learn more about our mentors and mentees in their own words:
Mariah Teresa Aviles (mentee, 2011, 2012)
Allison Adair Alberts (mentor, 2011, 2012)
Constantly running late, Allie receives the same text message from Riah: “Allie, I’m running a little late. I’ll be there soon.” It’s become more of a routine and an expectation — a habit, rather than a “once in a blue moon” kind of thing. Nonetheless, our smiles shine through the Starbucks on the corner of Metropolitan and Wood Avenues, greeting each other with our famous, “Hey how are you?” Transformation. growth. Our conversations and sessions may remain the same as always, but our ideas have more structure, our writing has progressed. More. More. More. Thank you Allie.
She with her pencil, and I with my pen, discuss poetics and narrative art. We are in a bubble, in a cacophonous Bronx Starbucks. In a time away from real life, our time is a time to create, to recreate, to cross out when necessary. Our words interweave and overlap, remixing, re-visioning, re-imagining. Year two flows more easily: we are serious writers now.
Amy DiLuna (mentor, 2012)
Girls Write Now didn’t pair me up with a mentor; they paired me up with a superhero. I firmly believe that Amy DiLuna is Wonder Woman in disguise. That’s the only logical explanation I have because she has saved my life one too many times. Amy lets my mind and soul breathe for the first time every week — she saves me from the burning building that is my hectic life and puts the fire out as well. She remixes my life weekly by teaching me everything from how to keep my tone consistent in my writing to why the Vitamin C in grapefruit calms your nerves before a math test. I think it’s a little selfish that she’s keeping this superhero business a secret — I’m convinced she can fly, and I’m waiting for my lesson.
I was never like Christina. I don’t know anyone who was–self-possessed, sure of what she believes in, confident, wildly talented, uncompromising. And what a wicked magic flows through her fingers when she writes. She’s remixed my notion of just how wide-open and bright with possibility the horizon can be. I imagine the other girls at school look at her the way I do: with awe and wonder and hope that she’ll remember us when she’s running the world.
Ava Nadel (mentee, 2012)
Jessi Hempel (mentor, 2012)
“Ready to pick one?” Jessi says as I sip on my iced chai. I nod and reach into the pouch of paper slips in the back of Jessi’s notebook. I read the prompt and make a face. “I’m not really sure if I like this one,” I say hesitantly. It’s hard to write about something you’re not used to. “C’mon,” Jessi replies, “Let’s try it out.” Ten minutes later, I read out my response as Jessi listens. Once I finish, Jessi says, “Wow, that was really beautiful,” I smile, feeling the satisfaction of stepping out of my comfort zone. Don’t underestimate yourself.
The timer dings and Ava and I both put down our pens. As we nibble chocolates at the Cocoa Bar where we meet every Monday evening, we compare notes on our ten minute writing warm up. Last September when we began, our ideas felt forced. We’d labor over a few sentences and read them to each other tentatively. Tonight we’ve written two pages each. I listen to Ava’s rich descriptions of a meal she enjoyed. “Maybe I should write an essay about that,” she says, because we have both learned, every event is an opportunity for a story.