Originally published in the Florida Times-Union
For most employees, lunch hour is a time to unwind, grab a bite to eat or run a quick errand. The same holds true for Monique Stokley, a senior claims service analyst at Allstate, except for one lunch hour a week when she mentors a middle school student through United Way’s Achievers For Life initiative.
Growing up in North Carolina, Stokley’s family made education a top priority. Her mother, a retired English teacher, and her father, a state employee, instilled the importance of education in Stokley from a young age.
“In my family, going to college was not a choice, but a requirement,” Stokley said.
She passes down the same values her parents instilled in her own children and other kids as well.
Stokley always had a passion to encourage youth through volunteering. She’s a basketball coach in her Kingsland, Ga., community .
“I like the interaction with the kids and understanding their thought process,” she explained. “I want them to be comfortable enough to talk with me, not only as their coach, but as an adult they can confide in.”
It was through her coaching experience that she saw some children needed help in their development, which in turn influenced her decision to become a mentor. Now, she mentors a sixth-grade girl at Ribault Middle School. Sweet, polite and bright are the first words that come to her mind when she describes her mentee. Stokley, a mother of three, understands that some students need a caring person to keep them on the right track.
“I want to be a cheerleader for my mentee,” Stokley said. “I want to be there to give her inspiration and hope to help her through not only her transition in school, but also at home.”
Regularly sharing words of encouragement, Stokley tells her she can do anything she wants to achieve.
I tell her you must apply yourself. Don’t let anyone ever deter you by saying you can’t achieve something.”
Stokley has also taken the initiative in aiding her student’s education. “Her grades don’t reflect her personality. I’ve spoken with her teachers to find out what her strengths and weaknesses are in the classroom. We’re now at the point of setting goals and eliminating distractions.”
Proud to be an employee of Allstate, which she says is a community service-oriented organization and very supportive, Stokley said, “Allstate encourages employees to get involved in the community. Employees are given time outside of work to meet with our mentees.”
As their relationship continues to develop, Stokley would like to introduce her mentee to the various options she can consider in the future, including college and career choices.
“She wants to be a nurse, so I would like her to meet and interact with my daughter, who is in the medical profession, to ask questions and learn about the process it takes to become a nurse.”
Stokley is looking forward to continuing to help.
“I’m going to stick with it, and I hope I can make a difference in my mentee’s life. I’m going to be here for her.”[hr]
Join Monique as an Achievers For Life mentor and change a life.
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