Students Kristy Gonzales, a senior at White Plains High School, and Misbah Nunir, a senior at New Rochelle High School met in the Nursing Assistant program at the Southern Westchester BOCES’ Center for Career Services. They aspire to become nurses. They soon found that they had more in common than they initially thought. The two have joined the Her Honor Mentoring program and found it a positive experience full of good advice for their futures.
Her Honor Mentoring was founded in 2006 by Judith Sheindlin, best known as “Judge Judy,” and her daughter Nicole Sheindlin with the mission of “provid[ing] unique learning opportunities and resources for young women.” The organization partnered with Westchester County’s Office for Women and assigns accepted high school girls a female mentor(s) across a wide spectrum of industries. Due to COVID-19, participants have been meeting virtually, often weekly, for conversations with their mentors.
“Her Honor Mentoring is for us to explore our career options, decide on future plans and learn professional skills,” Kristy said. “I was interested in talking to people about my college planning. When you register, they ask you about your plans, your personality, and your career goals. Based on your responses they match you with a mentor.”
Kristy was assigned two female mentors who work in the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Misbah’s guidance counselor introduced her to the mentoring program. As she was working on her college essays, she knew that it would be advantageous to be part of clubs or other activities, so she decided to apply.
“I didn’t know much about it, but I was willing to give it a try,” said Misbah. “I felt really comfortable after first meeting my mentor. It’s a space for me where I can talk about anything. I do receive a lot of guidance. It feels like our own little community.”
Misbah was paired with an experienced nurse who is a director at a nursing home in her hometown. They often discuss the general state of healthcare; Misbah’s mentor offered her an opportunity to work at her facility once she becomes a certified nursing assistant.
“She’s helped me with my college application process, finding nursing schools, filling out applications, and applying for financial aid,” Misbah said.
Misbah has applied to several schools and has SUNY Binghamton and SUNY Stonybrook at the top of her list.
Both Kristy and Misbah said that they have discussed several topics with their mentors, including finances, budgeting, and what a debit card is. They have also talked about how to obtain a work-life balance and the importance of finding leisure time.
“It’s really helpful for me working one-on-one,” Kristy said.
“Since I was younger, I always knew I would work in the medical field,” Kristy said. “Science is interesting to me, I wanted to learn how to combine science and medicine. Medicine is always changing. You can always figure out a way to help someone.”
Since Misbah, was a toddler, it was her goal to study nursing. Several of her family members work in the medical field, including her brother who is a doctor. He often talked about his medical school experiences and even allowed his sister to shadow him when he got a job.
“I always just wanted to be a part of it,” Misbah said.
Kristy is a first-generation immigrant and will be the first in her family to attend college. She has been accepted to Pace University, Manhattanville College, and SUNY Stony Brook.
“I feel more part of my community,” she said. “I’m talking to people who have had the same experience as me. My mentors are also first-generation immigrants and the first in their families to go to college. It’s a safe space to talk to them.”
Although Kristy and Misbah are both in the Nursing Assistant program at BOCES, Kristy said it is also nice to know someone else in the Her Honor Mentoring program. Kristy encouraged other high school students to investigate the program.
“Find out as much as you can,” she said. “It’s worthwhile because they really care about your future. My mentors were super considerate and nice. You feel you can always go to them.”
Kristy and Misbah were asked to create a presentation about the Her Honor Mentoring program to share with their fellow nursing assistant classmates.
“With the program, I figured out more of what I wanted to do,” Kristy said. “It made me feel it was OK to not know. Now there is a plan.”