CPE Mentor Spotlight with Nicole Abera

Nicole Abera is from Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her B.S. in Communication Disorders from Bowling Green State University, her M.S. in International Training and Education from American University, and her PhD in Special Education from University of Maryland, College Park. She is a school principal and has worked in education for 20 years. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys traveling, hiking and high-intensity fitness activities.

Why did you become a mentor?

I became a mentor because I wanted to be a supportive person for a young lady who may not have someone else to talk to as she navigates school. I didn’t really have anyone mentoring me in high school or college, so I had to learn lots of lessons the hard way. Hopefully I’m helping my mentee make wise choices and encouraging her to reach her full potential.

How long have you been mentoring with CPE?

This is my second year as a mentor with CPE.

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

My mentee and I have maintained a great relationship through zoom calls, phone calls and text messages. We have gotten together in person a few times as well. I know we both have busy lives, so we check in when we can.

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

I’ve tried my best to check in with her regularly about how school is going, but I also talked to her a lot about her mental health and physical health during this time. I don’t think any of us really realize how stressful the last couple of years have been. I have talked to her about ways to keep herself healthy and encouraged her to find safe ways to socialize with others that were comfortable for her and her family.

What is one of your mentee’s dreams?

My mentee immigrated from Ethiopia a few years ago when she was in high school. She will be the first person in her family to graduate from college. She wants to use her skills to help other girls from her village have more educational opportunities.

How are you helping her achieve it?

My mentee is so hard working and has done much of the heavy lifting. She is a very diligent student who earns good grades. We spent a lot of time together thinking through different college majors, completing applications and considering which college to attend. I was honored to write some recommendation letters for her as well. Now that she is a college student, I try to stay in touch with her about how school is going. I encouraged her to take advantage of the Writing Center on campus and to get involved with campus groups so that she can make friends with like-minded people.

How has CPE helped you in your mentoring relationship?

Since life is busy, I’m grateful that the CPE staff send reminders and set up opportunities for me to communicate with my mentee regularly. This has helped me not forget to be in touch regularly. They have also reminded me about topics to discuss with her such as health and well-being during the pandemic, social relationships, grades, and any family challenges). CPE also shared how they can provide my mentee with financial assistance for college applications, family groceries during the pandemic and more.

What advice would you give anyone considering mentoring?

I’m so glad I decided to become a mentor with CPE. My mentee is an awesome young lady who is going to really impact our world for good. It was a bit awkward getting to know my mentee the first few interactions, but before long we became super comfortable with each other.  Now we almost feel like family. Becoming a CPE mentor takes time and commitment to your mentee, but it is so fulfilling to see that time and effort pay off with your mentee’s success. While there is a time commitment, the activities and meetings are very manageable. If you have even a little extra time, consider using it to impact the life of one of CPE’s students. You won’t regret it.