Mentor Spotlight: Building Lifelong Connections On The College-To-Career Journey

“Having a mentor like Solomon, provides guidance and hope for my future. He is not only a mentor to me, but also a great friend who I can turn to.” – Eric Luu, UC Riverside freshman

January is National Mentoring Month! A time to recognize the real-life impact of a mentor and reflect on how we can all work together to ensure our youth have dependable role models to look up to, instilling positive change.

Did you know 1 in 3 young people grow up without a mentor in their lives? This is called the mentoring gap. At Students Rising Above, we believe strongly in the power of mentorship and the impact it can have on our students, now and down the line throughout their career.

Meet Solomon Reda, Apple Program Manager, Applied Machine Learning, and a proud SRA mentor to Eric Luu, SRA student and UC Riverside freshman.

Solomon is a first-generation American who grew up in Orange County with a family that placed a strong emphasis on education. Solomon attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, majoring in Industrial Technology, and continues to stay involved through opportunities such as serving as  Vice President of Student Affairs on the Advisory Council.

As a former basketball coach and having volunteered for numerous resume workshops hosted by Apple, Solomon has a passion for helping youth achieve their full potential.

We caught up with Solomon on what inspired him to become a mentor, why mentorship is so important and how we can all be mentors in our daily lives. Read the Q&A below!

What inspired you to become a mentor?

Solomon: First and foremost, being raised by someone who dedicated her life to helping STEM majors pursue their dreams. Beyond that, five years into my career and as a minority myself, I decided it would be a waste of my talents not to help others, who would soon be entering the workforce and might be facing similar challenges.

One of the benefits of mentorship is learning from someone else’s experiences. What do you think your mentee is teaching you?

Solomon: Eric has taught me the value of learning from someone who gives you hope. I always thought this had to be your parents and I’ve learned through this life-changing experience that this trusted relationship does not have to be through direct lineage. When you have someone that cares about you, that goes a long way, it doesn’t take much – it takes someone who roots for you and believes in you.

What has been your favorite memory with Eric so far this year?

Solomon: One afternoon, we had planned on getting together and I let Eric know I hadn’t been feeling well and wasn’t able to plan something big, but I still wanted to get together. We grabbed In-N-Out, had a great conversation, but it definitely wasn’t fancy. About 30 minutes after I dropped Eric off at home, I got a text from him, letting me know how much it met to him. I understood in that moment that it doesn’t take much – it takes being there.

What does the value of education mean to you?

Solomon: Education gives you options – options to obtain whatever success means to you and the environment around you.

What have you learned from this mentorship experience?
Solomon: There’s a lot of nuances to college. Having experienced the college application process with Eric, I saw first-hand that the system is getting harder and harder to navigate. It’s important to have the resources and people to turn to for advice and counsel.

This is why organizations like SRA are so important and impactful. SRA provides opportunity to kids that might have never known what opportunities were possible.


To learn more about our Mentorship program and how to get involved, check out our recent blog post: How Mentorship Changes Lives.