This blog post was written by former mentor and mentee pair, Rachel Cohen and Lashanda Anakwah. They were paired together until Lashanda graduated and headed off to college. Lashanda, a mentee for two years, was a 2012 Scholastic scholarship and gold medal winner for her senior portfolio. This post follows their story of meeting up during Lashanda’s senior year as a writing major at Ithaca College.
Rachel and I had talked about her coming to visit Ithaca College as early as my first semester of freshman year. We both agreed it was a great idea, but I was beginning to fear Rachel coming up to Ithaca was becoming one of those good ideas that never seemed to come together.
We met up in the summer and touched based like we do from time to time. Rachel seemed determined to find a way to see me before I graduated. “Yeah, she was definitely going to come up,” I thought to myself as I sat across from her. Rachel always keeps her promises.
Like always we marveled at how fast time seemed to be moving. I was about to become a college senior; it seemed as if I was high school senior only a few days ago.
Rachel arrived at my off campus apartment on a Sunday. I showed her around Ithaca College, thankfully it was a beautiful day. A couple days before that it had been raining horrendously. We were standing on top of a hill looking out onto Cayuga Lake, “remember when I didn’t know where I wanted to go?” I asked Rachel. She nodded, “I’m so glad I came here.” I wasn’t sure if Rachel recalled but she helped me make one of the most important decisions in my life. When the college application process began, Rachel and I went to the Barnes & Nobles on 86th street and looked through huge college board books which listed the pros and cons of all the colleges in the country.
Now we were standing at Ithaca College looking at the beautiful view.
“It’s my turn to clean the bathtub this week,” Lashanda said of the off-campus apartment she shares with three roommates.
“What college students clean the bathtub?” I thought. OK, I may have said it out loud.
I had promised my former mentee I would visit her at Ithaca College before she graduated. And even though it feels as if she started there three weeks ago, apparently it’s been three years, because now she’s a senior and I was running out of time.
I finally made the trip in late September, arriving on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Four years earlier, she had suggested we use our weekly session to visit a college fair, and that’s where she first picked up the colorful brochures for Ithaca College.
We have met up in New York City several times since she started school, exchanged emails, texts, phone calls. It’s one thing to hear her talk about how beautiful the campus is, about her classes and activities and work-study jobs and friends. It’s another to see it all up close, how a teenager has blossomed into a confident college woman.
And I’m still impressed about the bathtub.