CPE Mentor Spotlight with James Hawkins

James Hawkins is from Newport News, VA. As a child, James actively engaged in sports, particularly baseball and basketball. His hard work paid off and he received a baseball scholarship to Virginia State University. He transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University, earned a degree in Psychology, and later earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration from Liberty University. He works for Montgomery County Government as a Performance Management and Data Analyst. His responsibilities in this role include design thinking, business process improvement, and data visualizations.

Why did you become a mentor?

I became a mentor in direct response to some of the travesties people of color were facing in America. During the height of the George Floyd case, I felt helpless. I didn’t know how I could create change in the situation. Instead of letting my thoughts ultimately beat me into submission, I decided mentoring would be the first step towards making a difference in my own community. 

How long have you been mentoring with CPE?

I have been mentoring with CPE for two years.

How have you been able to sustain the relationship with your mentee during COVID-19?

I speak with my mentee KJ often via FaceTime and texting. We also use Miro’s digital whiteboard software to discuss his current events and next steps. During the football season, I even got a chance to watch four of his football games. 

In what ways are you helping him get through this pandemic?

Constant communication and keeping him focused on the larger picture. We often look at his life in 5 to 10-year chunks, not just the day-to-day. 

What is one of your mentee’s dreams?

My mentee wants to become a starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers and earn enough money to change the current environment for his family and siblings. 

How are you helping him achieve it?

I support him and push him. Big goals can be scary until you break them down into smaller obtainable steps. I also remind him he is only human, and mistakes or setbacks will happen. Successful people are often defined by what they do when everything is going wrong. 

How has CPE helped you in your mentoring relationship?

CPE has provided a tremendous number of resources to assist me with KJ. I can’t imagine there being a better mentoring program than CPE. 

What advice would you give anyone considering mentoring?

The best advice I would give is to be yourself. Meet your mentee where they are, led by example, and find a common interest. Also, keep your word. Trust is a vital component of having a successful mentoring relationship.