Mariya has been involved with the YWCA High School Mentorship program for 18 years, as both a mentee and a mentor. Now she wants to encourage others to experience the life-changing program that helped shape her career and life.
Starting out as a mentee in 2002, Mariya was a Grade 11 high school student looking for advice and insight into pursuing a career in policing.
She was matched with Sheila, a working police officer at the time, who connected her with women all through the police force and helped her navigate the recruitment process.
“Honestly it changed my life,” she said. “I’m so glad I joined the program. It was amazing for the networking. It definitely opened up doors for me and definitely helped me obtain my career.”
Fast-forward 18 years and Mariya works for the Vancouver Police Department and has now been a mentor with the YWCA High School Mentorship program for 10 years.
“This program has given me so much and had such an impact on my life so I wanted to give back and give other young girls the same support I had,” she said.
“It’s definitely mutually beneficial... It allows you the opportunity for growth, it inspires you.
Her mentee in 2019 was particularly special.
“2019 was such a busy year for me so I was going to take a break from the program,” she said. “But then I was volunteering with the Vancouver Police Department Cadet program and we were away at a camp and this girl was sitting at a table with me and talking about the YWCA High School Mentorship program. She said she was hoping to find a mentor but was on the waitlist because they hadn’t found someone to match her with yet.
“It was like it was meant to be. Talking to her I could see my younger self in her. She was so enthusiastic about a career in policing and was just looking for that guidance and support. So at that moment I called YWCA and said if I was matched with her I would continue on with the program for the year.”
Since then they’ve taken on all kinds of activities, from biking to running a half marathon together.
“It’s definitely mutually beneficial. The field trips and activities we have been on have helped me to learn more about myself. For example, she likes bike riding and I’m not very confident on a bike. But one day she said let’s go and I’m so glad I did it, I loved it and felt so happy to have done something out of my comfort zone.”
Mariya says she would recommend the YWCA High School Mentorship program to anyone and everyone.
“It allows you the opportunity for growth, it inspires you. I absolutely love this program, I believe in this program. It has done so much for me and my life so I always want to share that and give back in any way I can.”
For more information or to apply to become mentor in 2020, please contact the High School Mentorship team at firstname.lastname@example.org