I believe the best way to aide someone is to help them help themselves. The best way I can do that is to be a partner in someone’s life helping them to see and navigate the road ahead.
Chicago native John Falzone has always been the type of person to help out. Even as young as four-years-old, John can remember following his building handyman around to sweep the floor. He volunteered in high school, tutoring elementary students and assisting with summer track camps. Today, John devotes a lot of his time mentoring and educating underserved youth with iMentor Chicago.
iMentor Chicago is a mentorship organization that believes every student deserves a champion. They accomplish their mission by taking an entire high school class and pairing them with college graduate adult mentors. Participants mentor their students (three years total) until their sophomore year of college, and are required to communicate at least once a week through the online curriculum and attend a monthly face-to-face meeting at the school.
“Working with my student has been a growing experience,” says John. “I have become more aware of myself while reflecting on our relationship and his future. I spend much of my time trying to figure out how to help him avoid the pitfalls of my teenage years and find the best ways to advocate for and expose him to enriching opportunities.”
iMentor’s efforts aim to address the low high school graduation and college attendance rates for low-income, English as a Second Language and underrepresented minority students by giving each an experienced partner to support and guide them through the college process.
“It’s important for me to volunteer in my local community because I know, first-hand, the struggles of growing up in it,” says John. “I am also a product of the Chicago Public School system. Many times, in those environments, there are few advocates. People tend to see the negative and are blinded to the potential. As a man of color, I believe it’s important for young men of color to see me doing something positive. I want to counteract negative stereotypes and give the students someone to relate to. I hope to inspire them to believe they can also be successful.”
John is a man of many hobbies. In his spare time, he likes to play Magic: the Gathering, board games and logic puzzles, as well as listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, read books and do online research for fact checking. He also trains in mixed martial arts and hopes to participate in amateur fights in the future.