Jessica R. (above, left) was a sophomore in college when she applied to participate in the Franklin C. Ash Summer Internship. Zoe (above, right), was about to enter her senior year in high school when she participated in the Lasko College Prep Program.
“It was 2011, and I was at Towson University,” Jessica said. “My goal in life was and is to do something good for the world, so I started as a Psychology major, but ultimately decided that I liked human services and the non-profit leadership fields contained in the Family Science unit, so that’s the program I graduated from.”
Energetic and idealistic, Jessica cites the Ash Internship Program as a pivotal moment in her college career.
“I knew that I wanted to help the community and work in a field that would allow me to do exactly that,” she noted. “Mentoring seemed like a natural tie-in.”
Through the seven-week Ash program, Jessica was able to nurture her love of community service, and grew closer to her Jewish faith – as well as mentor a young high school student named Zoe, who was taking part in JEVS’ Lasko College Prep Program.
“Through the Ash Program, they assign you a mentee,” Jessica explained. “Zoe and I had similar family structures, and we grew up in similar areas, plus had some schooling in common.”
A soon-to-be junior in high school, Zoe was just beginning to explore the possibility of higher education. She had many questions – both big and small – about the application process and about college life in general, which Jessica was happy to answer.
“During the summer, we would do joint Ash/Lasko activities together,” said Jessica. “But in many cases, we would schedule lunches to just talk about all different aspects of college planning or about life in general. We would visit the JEVS Career Strategies team, as well, and talk about future plans.”
All that planning paid off the next year, when Zoe was accepted into the JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary) program at Columbia University.
“It was incredible to share in the excitement of that moment,” said Jessica. “I realized personally that I was on the right path with everything I was studying and doing at college – because the Ash program not only brought me a friend and wonderful contacts, but also a sense that helping to guide and mentor was exactly where I wanted to be. It really propelled me to the end of my degree.”
Remaining just a text away, the two young women continue to support and encourage one another in their pursuits. Jessica is presently contemplating grad school, and cites the continued assistance and influence of JEVS staff – across all programs – as extremely beneficial in her roles as both program participant and future mentor and leader.
“It sounds very cliché,” said the mentor herself. “But this program was a gift that keeps on giving.”