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Profiles in Mentoring: Jackie Herd-Barber

Portrait of Jackie Herd-BarberOne woman who answers the call.

Jackie Herd-Barber is no stranger to service. Her resume in giving back to the community tells the story of her commitment to Milwaukee’s youth. What is behind her drive to serve? The desire to offer kids the same opportunities she was able to provide her own kids. Recognizing that she can bring value to others’ lives through mentoring, Herd-Barber knows the impact this can have when they go to college and beyond.

I recently sat down with Herd-Barber to talk about her experience mentoring a College Possible scholar this year. An engineer by profession and Milwaukee School of Engineering alumni, I was struck by her genuine interest in the lives and success of those around her.

For many students, the 2020-21 school year was filled with challenges. For one student at St. Joan Antida High School, her senior year was not what she had envisioned. In February 2021, Myangel was in jeopardy of not meeting the requirements to graduate with her senior class. Unstable internet paired with the challenges and isolation of virtual learning were thwarting her efforts and her College Possible coach, Shayla, recognized both the need for immediate action and that this was out of her area of expertise.

On a cold winter night, Executive Director Kellie J. Sigh reached out to her friend, Herd-Barber to see if she could help. At first she hesitated. She was already actively mentoring almost a dozen other young people in addition to her other commitments. Thankfully, Herd-Barber accepted and lost no time getting to work.

In a very short period of time, Herd-Barber and coach Shayla worked to create a plan that Myangel felt was realistic. “Myangel was all in,” Herd-Barber recounted. “I think I can do this,” she said, remembering Myangel’s response. Through daily check-ins and some creative problem solving, the trio found a way to overcome the barriers in Myangel’s path. “Seeing the desire and motivation in the student. She wanted to finish strong.”

And she did! Myangel graduated on time with her class of 2021. We are so thankful for Herd-Barber’s passion and commitment to see her through to success. Herd-Barber was struck by not only Myangel’s energy but also coach Shayla’s. Both young women wanted to do what was right and she saw each one’s unique need. Herd-Barber also began mentoring Shayla as she planned for her life after AmeriCorps.

Herd-Barber has some great advice for any young person. First, she believes that everyone needs a mentor. Be open to opportunity and seek out people who can help you on your journey. Second, do the hard work now so you can choose the job. Don’t let the job choose you.

Her final thoughts were on the other young people, like Myangel, who could benefit from a mentor.

I am grateful that Kellie asked me to serve in this role. My concern is always, for all the students we are able to assist, how many are we not able to intervene? How do we find an opportunity to make a difference in everyone’s life? How do we find more people who can step in and serve?

Thank you Jackie Herd-Barber for answering the call! If you are interested in learning more about mentoring opportunities at College Possible, please contact us at info@collegepossible.org.

 

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