My First Mentor

by Donna Zephrine

It was my freshman year in college. I was attending SUNY Farmingdale and there was an event called the World Food Conference. My English professor informed the class it would be mandatory for all students to attend. The event was held at the Roosevelt Hall Theater and was open for students, faculty, community members. I sat in the back of the auditorium. I was taking notes best as I could. I have an auditory and language processing disorder that makes note taking challenging. I was looking around for someone to look on with. One woman sitting in front of me seemed to be taking good notes. I asked her for her help and she said her name was Beth Thompson. She gladly shared numbers with me so that she could send me her notes later that day. We continued chatting and getting to know each other. She lived not far from SUNY Farmingdale, in Massapequa. She told me she was in the process of relocating to Brightwaters Bay Shore, which ironically was near me.

I felt it was more than coincidence that I was sitting behind her. I felt like God made us meet. We kept in touch after that day. After corresponding with her by telephone she came back to university to meet with me in the library. She shared her notes with me and offered to meet with me again to help me with my work. I did share with her that I have learning disabilities. She told me she was a counselor who worked in an organization helping teens who had gotten pregnant. She stated that in the next couple of weeks her time was limited due to moving. She promised once she got settled, we could meet again. She offered to help me with organizing and writing. I felt blessed.

We ended up becoming close friends. She helped me multiple times a week with organizing and time management. She invited me to her house for our “sessions” to work together. I was so thankful for her friendship and looked at her as a mentor. I felt like she was a gift granted to me. I would talk to her about my struggle and was there for her when I could. She even asked me to stay in her home and dog sit. I saw this as a true sign of trust and friendship.

Eventually, she moved to Texas. We have continued to keep in touch over the phone when we can. I’ll never forget she told me “I had been praying to meet someone like you”. Beth will always hold a special place in my heart. I needed help and I felt she was like a mother figure to me. She always tried to understand me and empathized with me about my struggles. She was never judgmental or cruel. Her kindness, generosity and friendship made a world of a difference to me and I will forever treasure it.

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