Local business owners Karen and Dave Crawford know that when kids are growing up, it’s important to have an adult to look up to. That’s why when Cristian asked Karen to be his mentor, she said, “Yes!”

When Cristian was matched with Karen in his sophomore year at Sonoma Valley High School, he had high hopes to become a mechanic and to attend the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in Sacramento. He knew that having a mentor in his life would help him reach his goal. Karen’s husband, Dave, owner of Dave’s Mufflers, entered the picture and began to co-mentor Cristian. They share the same passion for just about anything that has wheels.

Cristian spent many hours in Dave’s shop learning about mechanics, how to repair engines, as well as the day-to-day responsibilities of a shop owner. Cristian explained, “I learned how to weld and cut metal with a blowtorch. I’ve also seen cars go from a rust bucket to show-car grade. Having this experience at Dave’s shop has confirmed my passion to make a career out of working on cars in the future.”

Dave and Karen added, “We love helping Cristian build character. The mentoring experience has been beneficial for us. We’ve had a lot of fun exposing Cristian to activities and new adventures in life. It makes us feel better about ourselves to help kids out.”

Cristian is enrolled in his first semester at UTI and focusing on automotive and diesel engineering. Now it’s up to him to put the “petal to the metal” and study. The Mentoring Alliance was happy to support Cristian with a college scholarship to help him fulfill his dream.

Cristian is just one of our many mentees whose promise and potential prompted the Mentoring Alliance to create a new College Success Program for students who receive a scholarship to further their education after high school. This program offers students access to a college mentor to help them navigate the unfamiliar world of higher education. They receive one-on-one help with choosing classes, financial aid, career planning and more. In our inaugural year, student enrollment in college saw a 38 percent improvement in retention over the previous year.

This year, in addition to serving 35 students in junior colleges, universities and trade schools across the country, we will also be expanding the College Success Program to reach out to students currently in High School. We know that success starts with preparation, and our goal is that each of our senior mentees graduates ready for the road ahead.

If you would like to fund a scholarship in your name, in memory of a loved one, in honor of the person who mentored you, etc., contact us at 938-1990. To make a donation to our general scholarship fund, send your check to Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, College Success Program. P.O. Box 721, Sonoma, CA 95476.

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Tina Moi is the College Success Coordinator for the Mentoring Alliance.