Ashlyn, DeVae, Katrina, Kaycee, Laney, Lydia, Makayla, Matthew, Megan, Michael, and Skylar
In 2018, these 11 seventh graders joined Journey. As a new education initiative of the Mission at the time, the program promised students would receive six years of mentoring with professional staff, community members, and their peers. Journey would get them outdoors, let them explore their communities, and help them develop the tools needed to successfully transition from high school to college and careers.
Taking a leap of faith, these students jumped into building skills, visiting colleges and technical schools, adventuring as a group, and developing lasting friendships. Fast forward six years to 2023 and they are wrapping up their time with Journey and preparing to graduate high school. The group, which laid the foundation for the more than 60 students who have joined the program since it started, is now reflecting on their experiences.
Almost all of the students believe that two things made the program an integral part of their lives: the support they received and the friends they made. “I bonded with people I otherwise would not have been friends with and created lasting relationships with all sorts of people” Kaycee says. While some of the students had known each other for years, others came from different elementary schools, towns, and backgrounds. Journey brought them together. Kaycee adds that the group became an extra support system, which allowed her to be fully herself. Lydia agrees, saying she remembers noticing the positive change Journey had on her: while playing games on Swan’s Island, she realized she was no longer the same shy student when she started the program. She found her place and her voice.
The students have also received mentorship from community members and Mission staff, including Journey Coordinator Briana West who has worked with the students since the start of the program. This one-on-one mentorship is a large part of the Journey, and something they say has been an important part of their experience. Skylar and Ashlyn share that the Mission and mentors they have connected with have been present to provide guidance when they needed it. Matthew also says mentoring was one of the parts that helped him the most. “Journey gives you a mentor you can rely on.”
As they reflect on their high school careers, they all believe their time in Journey positively impacted their lives. Many point to these opportunities as an important part of their growth as individuals. Laney says, “I’ve had so many new experiences that I generally wouldn’t have because of Journey. Journey opened the door to so many great opportunities especially in terms of my future after high school.” DaVae adds, “Journey is like no other program out there.”
The Journey program is always looking for mentors to work with students. If you are interested in mentoring, apply here.