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. Meet our current class of mentors and mentees!
Meet the Community
Mentees and mentors become crit partners, collaborators, and lifelong friends. Learn more about our mentors and mentees in their own words:
Roberta Nin Feliz & Jalylah Burrell
Roberta says: Jalylah has been my coach when I needed to push myself and my muse when I needed inspiration. Working with her is a new world unto itself. It’s a world where we can eat Clif bars or raw vegan pizza while chasing our dreams. She has shown me new parts of New York City and new sides of people I never knew existed.
Jalylah says: I hadn’t thought about the Tao Te Ching for years until Roberta mentioned it in conversation. I subsequently searched for the highlighted copy my father sent me when I was in boarding school. She reminds me of myself exceeding and enlivening the best of those memories. She works hard. Her work is attentive/ Her work is honesty. Her work is a wonder. It’s been a joy to wander with her.
Jalylah has been a mentor with Girls Write Now for four years. Jalylah and Roberta are in their second year together.
Xiao Shan Liu & Alyssa Vine
Xiao Shan says: Joining Girls Write Now has given me a chance to improve my writing skills, but the best part is it has given me a chance to meet Alyssa. Alyssa and I were both new to the program, but it didn’t take long for us to become friends. Alyssa is very gentle about the things going on around us. She always gives useful tips to help me improve my writing, and is tolerant of my English pronunciation. It is so fun with her, and it is an honor to have her as my mentor.
Alyssa says: Xiao Shan is full of enthusiasm, curiosity, and positive energy. I am constantly amazed at how hard she works, not only on her assignments, but in every aspect of her life. I am particularly impressed by her eagerness to use and improve her English. Writing in a second language is extremely challenging – we talk a lot about grammar and word choice. But this challenge is also closely linked with her creativity, and part of what shapes her voice as a writer. Xiao Shan finds ways of expressing herself that are truly original, translating Chinese words and phrases to convey her ideas in English. It is exciting to see her grow as a writer, and getting to know her this year has been a pleasure and a privilege.
Xiao Shan and Alyssa both joined Girls Write Now in 2012, and are now in their second year together.
Najaya Royal & Anuja Madar
Najaya says: My mentor has opened my eyes to different ways of editing my work, and convinced me to step out of my comfort zone. We are still exploring the new world of growing up and making smart decisions. It’s a world you can learn from and get hurt by (or both), but it’s the most valuable of them all and our journey has only just begun. Wish us luck!
Anuja says: This year has been a learning experience for me; who knew high school was so intense? I am constantly shocked by what kids today have to deal with in school, and I am consistently impressed by how Najaya handles it all. She rises above whatever challenges are put in front of her, and has made some tough decisions that would be hard for someone twice her age. Together we are exploring a world where decisions are not always easy, and for every few steps forward there may be a step back, too. I’m confident that we’ll be able to navigate it easily, especially since we’re doing it together.
Anuja has been a mentor and volunteer with Girls Write Now for six years. Najaya and Anuja are in their third year together.