Cassandra Tongilava '13 is used to making her own way in life, and has worked hard to track down scholarship programs, academic opportunities, and role models. "I promised myself that if I ever had the chance to impact a young life like myself growing up, I would be that mentor," she remembers.
As an Americorps volunteer, Cassandra kept her promise, serving as an academic coach to middle school students at Peace Community Center in Tacoma. Every day, she challenged herself to find new ways to engage and motivate her students. Every day, she spent time reflecting on what she had learned. Listening to Krista colleagues at the Annual Service Leadership Conference share challenges, struggles and rewards of their service year helped deepen her reflections. "I learned so much about my identity as a Pacific Islander Samoan and Tongan, American, and woman in the context of my community this year," she said. "The conference helped me see areas of my life that still need growth."
Because she has learned that when it comes to mentors, there is no "perfect fit," she appreciates the Krista Foundation's cohort mentoring model. "Exchanging knowledge, getting to know other people, listening to their life's journey, their struggle, what worked and didn't, taking what's good and processing what's bad, is perfect learning," she says. "Everything inspires and teaches me, and can help me find ways to navigate my world."