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Originally published: 2013-02-11 10:01:16
Last modified: 2013-02-11 10:01:16

Mentoring agency announces essay contest winners

by Sherrie Norris

January was National Mentoring Month, during which Watauga Youth Network, the area's premiere mentoring agency, sponsored an inaugural essay contest.

The rules were simple: Each essay had to begin with the words "Mentoring Matters" and, in 300 words or less, the writer had to tell the story of how a mentor had impacted his or her life. 

When the competition closed on Jan. 25, organizers knew their efforts had paid off. 

It was the agency's first year to host an essay contest during National Mentoring Month, said Angela McMann, mentoring program director at WYN. "We were delighted by the responses we received, with the most coming in from the 5-10 age group," she said. 

Choosing the winners was not an easy task, McMann said. She said nine judges chose the winners. 

"We were thrilled by the response and the beautiful things written about the mentors that have impacted -- and continue to impact -- the lives of all of our entrants. Boone is such a special community filled with so many natural mentors. It was our hope, that during January, people have been able to take a moment to thank the people who have impacted their lives." 

WYN has a history of successfully matching mentoring adults with children in the area and maintains a constant waiting list of youngsters who are in need of mentors.

To learn how you can make a difference as a mentor, contact McMann by calling (828) 264-5174 or visiting

All About the winners

First-place winners of the essay contest received $50 gift cards to the Mast General store; second-place winners received $25 gift cards to Walmart.

"In the case of our second place adult winner, Mar Startari," McMann said."at her request, we will donate $25 to the Watauga County Library in honor of the late Evelyn Johnson." 

The first-place essay contest winners were invited to read their essays on local radio during this week's Mayor's Report. 

Winning essays 

Autumn Rose Solis 

Mentoring matters because it helps you learn. Kimmy is my mentor and she is going to be my stepmama. She takes care of me and daddy. When I am sad she thinks of fun things for us to do. Kimmy is teaching me how to cook. We have a secret ingredient, but I can't tell you what it is. Let's just say it's love.

My mentor has taught me how to make a birdhouse, how to draw and how to practice my violin. We even go to the animal shelter to walk dogs. A mentor should be kind to you, nice to you. A mentor can be a boy or a girl. They could even speak a different language, like Spanish. 

I know everybody doesn't have a mentor, but I wish they did. 

I think I will be a better person when I grow up because my mentor has taught me to be better. When I am an adult I will be a mentor to help other people. 

That will be fun!

Aurora E. Randolph 

Mentoring matters because for some of us without a mentor we would not know as much. I am writing about my mentor Adam. He is my Kung Fu teacher.  Without Adam I would not know as much about Kung Fu. Adam is making me a better person.  Adam teaches Kung Fu.  He tells us to exercise a lot.  As my instructor, he teaches me to have more self-discipline.   He wants us to be safe and to stay in shape.  And those are some of the reasons why mentoring matters to me. 

Jenelle Boisvert

Mentoring matters.

When I was in 7th grade, I had just come back from a school in Statesville. I felt out of place at Cove Creek, but then I heard about WYN and their local mentoring program. I had my first mentor in 7th grade. Her name was Gracee. She was so amazing, she helped me prepare for high school. She would take me out walking and she would just be there to listen. I never fully understood how much she meant to me, until she was gone. She left right after my eight-grade summer. 

See, I learned a lot more then than I thought. See, we were best friends; we were sisters. I loved her so much, but just like in any relationship, I made mistakes. And with those mistakes I feel like we grew apart.

When she finally left, I realized how much I missed her. I ended up emailing her and apologizing for the mistakes I did. But, in that same letter I also explained to her how much she truly meant to me. She was my rock for two years. 

She was my best friend. I will always remember when we would have "twilight days," where we would watch all the Twilight movies and eat popcorn. Also, we planned to bake a cake for my birthday. She loved to hike and to be in nature; she introduced me to hiking. And now I love to hike! She was such an amazing "big sister." So, if you are reading this, Gracee, I want to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you. And I miss you so much.

Nathan McKinney

Mentoring matters because without it most of us would not be what we are today. Had I not been mentored by my mentor, and my good friend Zach, I would not be as patient a person as I am now. He began to fill the position of mentor when he reached out and taught me how to be patient and be polite to people, even the more difficult people that we all meet. He also taught me about the importance of history and how it can affect our lives today.

Another mentor in my life would be my youth pastor, Scott Burns. He has shown me what it is like to be a truly Godly man and father. Many times have I seen him deal with situations that would drive most of us to start screaming in anger, but he always keeps his cool and handled the situation appropriately.

In my work in AWANA, with my local church, I have also learned how teach kids the important facts of life from the AWANA leader, David Ellington. From him I have learned about how to be a good example to people who I hope to be a mentor to someday. 

Mentoring matters because without it, I would never have grown a love for history, the ability to be patient with my peers, and how to follow in my mentor's steps so that I too can teach the next generation. That is why mentoring matters

Adult Division 

Mar Startari

Mentoring matters. ... I know it does, but how exactly? How does mentoring play a part in my everyday life?  

It is the invisible foundation I step on whenever I choose a path. However, like so many other components that comprise a functional day for me, mentoring may go unnoticed.  

This essay contest has given me an invaluable chance to realize, and be thankful for, the mentors in my everyday life. 

So, ...who do I pick? 

I am lucky I have too many choices. This speaks highly of the community I live in. Of course I thought first of my parents because I call them at the onset of anything good or bad.

Moreover, I thought of my husband, who I lean on emotionally and physically everyday.
Furthermore, I thought of all the people I ask questions of. I just couldn't get started writing.Who is the mentor I use the most? 

Unfortunately, it came to me at a most awkward moment. I was at a funeral. I was surrounded by the people who answer the most of my everyday questions and on the most levels.

The mentor I go to the most would be Watauga County Library. I know I'm not the only one either. Every person in our community is helped by them, in some way or another. Mentoring does matter and so does our library.  

Raymond Christian

Mentoring matters as one of the most important factors that have contributed to my advancement in life. Before I met my wife I was nearing the end of a 20-year military career I had dreams of finishing college and continuing on with my life goals. But never having a solid educational foundation and suffering the effects of PTSD, that dream was little more than a hope. 

My wife, Tiffany Christian has served as my constant companion, my helper, my task master and my mentor. She instructed me by way of example, she provided me with encouragement and firm attentiveness when that was required. When we met she was a graduate student and I was holding on to a general education high school diploma having graduated at nearly the bottom of my class. She has developed me academically and guided my academic decisions. Were it not for her mentorship, I would still be a high school graduate with no chance of ever attending College. It was her serving as my mentor that gave me the inspiration and the subject matter knowledge to pursue my dream, and it was her that kept me from giving up a hundred times over. At present I have earned bachelor's and master's degrees and will be receiving my advanced degrees in a few months, and moving on to pursue my doctorate in education. I currently teach part-time in the department of general education at ASU.
 There is not a day that passes that I do not reflect on my good fortune for having a mentor, that is not only my best friend, but my wife. I could never have achieved my educational goals and set an example for my children were it not for my mentor. Mentoring has mattered in my life.