Interview with Summit Mentor Valeria Serna

Valeria Serna is a Senior at St. Anthony High School. She began attending the Summit One-On-One Program and Summer Olympics Program when she was in the 4th grade. After she graduated from 8th grade, she served as a Junior Counselor for 4 summers and has been a part of the College Bound Program. After she graduates high school this spring, she would like to study business or mechanical engineering in college; she has been inspired to study these subjects by career speakers at Summit.


Summit: When did you start attending the Summit One-On-One Program, and how did your mentor impact your life?

Valeria: I started coming to Summit 8 years ago when I was in the 4th grade. My tutor that really made an impact on me when I was in middle school was Julieth. Julieth motivated me to take charge of my academics and set my standards high. She worked in the medical field, and told me about the hard work it took to get where she was. This motivated me to start doing my goal sheets and to raise my grades. It was great to have her listen to me and help me grow as a person.

What did you like best about the Summit Summer Olympics Program?

I always looked forward to spending my summer vacation at the Summer Olympics Program. Not only did I have a lot of fun making new friends and going on field trips, but I also learned things that still continue to impact me today. I loved hearing the career speakers that came in each week and talked to us about what they do. The ones that stood out the most was a mechanical engineer and and an international business woman. After listening to them talk, I am interested in studying one or both of those things in college next year.

What did you learn when you became a Junior Counselor as a high school student?

After graduating from 8th grade, I transitioned from a camper into the role of a Junior Counselor. I've learned many things from my first job, including responsibility, how to take initiative, and most importantly, how to be a role model.

I loved being a "JC" so much, and was able to get a taste of what it's like to be a mentor and encourage the younger girls to try to be the best people that they can be. I know that all of the mentors and counselors that I've had over the years at Summit truly cared about me and wanted to help me progress, and it was so rewarding to be able to do the same thing for girls who are in similar situations as I was as a camper.

How did this experience inspire you to become a mentor for the One-On-One Program?

I found that I loved mentoring the girls so much that last school year, I became a tutor for the One-On-One Program and was able to mentor a fourth-grade student of my own: Grace. She struggled with her schoolwork, and didn't want to be there at first, but after I got to know her and became her friend, she opened up and really started improving. It was amazing to see her grow, and I feel blessed that I can provide for Grace what I received from my own Summit mentors.

Nicole Heger