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Ely Hernandez – Journey from mentee to mentor.

<As read by Guest Speaker Ely Hernandez at Graditude – a yearly event celebrating our Senior Class of Mentees>

Before I begin, I want to start off by having you all think about the people who have helped you
throughout your years. Those people can include your parents, family members, friends or even
strangers-keep those people in mind.

My name is Ely Hernandez. I’m 28 I was born and raised in Sonoma, and I graduated from
Sonoma High in 2012. I took a second to think about life after high school and to be honest it
was nothing what I expected it to be. I’ve gone back and forth with attending SRJC, I’ve
changed my careers three times already, and I still don’t have it figured out. But I’m so grateful
to have a mentor who has supported me through it all even if some of my decisions haven’t made
sense to her.

I became a mentee when I was in fourth grade. My third-grade teacher had suggested I could
benefit from a mentor due to struggling academically and socially. I know, I was having issues
socially is a little shocking to me as well, love to see the growth for myself. As some of you may
know getting paired to a mentor is a process and I could say I wasn’t very patient. I would give
you the whole story about how my mentor and I met but I can save that for a different day. Short
story is, I broke the rules and took matters into my own hands and got my own mentor. We’ve
been together for 19 years and we still meet every other Sunday and there is still lots, and I mean
lots to talk about. Libby has been a great mentor to me and was a perfect example of what a
mentor should be, she is the reason I became a mentor myself.

Remember how I said I break the rules? Well… I tend to do that often. I also picked my mentee
he wasn’t enlisted to get a mentor. But the summer I worked in the front circle at the Boys & Girls Club he would always come in and signed in with a big smile on his face and say, “Hi
Ely!” During that summer he grew on me, and he came to the after-school program at Flowery.

Our relationship really grew, and I knew I was ready to be a mentor… At 21. When I first
became Tristian’s mentor, we had to have a conversation about what that would look like for us.
I remember the first time we participated in a mentoring event, Tristian while introducing
himself to people and said, “Hi my name is Tristian, and this is Ely, my girlfriend!” We had to
work on the introduction for a while. Tristian was in first grade and now he will be graduating in
June and heading to the high school.

As you embark on your journey after high school I want to remind you that you don’t have to
have it all figured out because no one does. But some lessons I have learned have been to be
open for feedback. Don’t take feedback personal but as a chance for you to grow. Advocate for
your self and needs and do it often. Finally, don’t compare your journey with anyone else. Where
ever you are is right where you’re supposed to be at that moment.

Now, do you have some people in mind that you thought of? Here are my people:
Kelsey, thank you for being my best friend even through the darkest times of my life and thank you for loving me when I didn’t love myself.

Tristian, I became a mentor at a moment in my life where I didn’t know I needed love and you
have loved me so much and I thank you for continuing to do so. I love you corazón.
Libby, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for you. You became my mentor, a friend
to me after high school, and now I see you as my second mom. I celebrate you every year cause
you have given me a mother love I didn’t know I needed. Thank you for loving me as well.

Mis padres, gracias por todo el sacrificio que an echo por mi y mis hermanos Ustedes viniero a
este pais si saber el idioma y coltura. Dejaron todo por nosotros y gracias por todo el apoyo que me an dado, esperon que esten orgullosos por mi.

To end this, I want you all to know that the world has so much to offer you and you also have so
much to offer the world. Be kind to people and also yourself, do everything with love, and let
people know how you feel about them often. I hope you all take 10 seconds out of your day to
thank the people who have supported you, cared for you, and wanted the best for you. One more
thing, be the person you needed when you were younger.

Thank you.

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