Since 2016, the Queers United to Encourage and Support Transition (QUEST) Mentorship Program at #Kent State has brought the #LGBTQ community together, matching mentors and mentees with one another. This gives mentors the opportunity to share life and professional advice, and help mentees succeed.
The program gives mentees exposure to adult life, such as career exploration, what being LGBTQ is like in the work field, professional development and life skills.
The program is led by Katie Mattise, the assistant director of the LGBTQ+ Center. They work to recruit mentors and mentees, train mentors, plan monthly events and offer support. Seeing strong relationships being built is very rewarding, they say.
“It’s a very important program because there is a big gap between youth and adults in the LGBTQ community,” says mentee Annalea Cascio, a junior special education major. Even if a mentor does not have the same career as their mentee, they can still be a great mentor, she says.
Sean Short, a junior political science major, has an internship lined up because of the program with his mentor. He also had the chance to help canvass during his mentor’s run for political office. He has been in the QUEST program for three years and says his favorite memories are from the meetings, where everyone can hang out and have fun with each other.
Both Short and Cascio say that they feel closer to the community, enjoy going to the program’s meetings and have met many great people. In addition to benefiting the mentees, QUEST also provides opportunities for the mentors.
“I think QUEST provides a place for both mentors and mentees alike to come together and help each other,” says Cristin Compton, an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies and a QUEST mentor.
Compton has been involved with QUEST since she came to Kent State in 2017. Mentees have come to her for professional and academic topics, but they have also asked her questions about life. “I love having those conversations,” she says.
Being a mentor has also allowed her to meet people in different fields and connect with other mentors.
”QUEST is basically hanging out with a bunch of people who want to see you succeed and want to be a part of that success,” she says.
Above all, the mentors and mentees mentioned have stressed QUEST as a place to meet others in the community.
“You’re going to meet a ton of awesome people,” Short says. “Don’t be afraid to reach out and do it.”