Every so often, Eric Walk and a college student he previously mentored through Minds Matter of Boston grab coffee together. They catch up on how she’s doing in school and her path to graduation.
When the student was in high school, Eric had worked with her to finalize her college list, write applications, and find a scholarship and financial aid. She emigrated from Haiti when she was young and endured her parents’ divorce. Eric’s mentorship helped her become the first in her family to go to college.
“She’s doing really well and hopefully will graduate in a year or so,” he said.
Eric, a lead technical consultant in our IBM practice, has been serving Minds Matter of Boston for about six years. In that time, his role has grown significantly as the organization has done the same.
Minds Matter helps passionate and driven high school students from low-income households gather the tools and guidance they need to help them continue their path to college. Eric was inspired to join because he realized the opportunities he had throughout his life are what allowed him to realize his potential.
Eric initially joined Minds Matter as a mentor. The program pairs students and mentors for about three years beginning in tenth grade. He helped with writing, professional skills, personal development, math, science, and ACT prep. He’s proud of the impact he’s had on students and says he learned just as much from them as they learned from him.
“It was a humbling and moving experience,” he said.
A New Role
Eric no longer serves as a mentor, but he’s still heavily involved in Minds Matter. It became evident that his technology skills could go a long way in continuing to evolve the organization. As such, he’s now in charge of strategic planning and technology initiatives.
“The population of students who need the help we offer is growing, and the organization is trying to grow with that population,” he said. “The problem we tackle is an important one, and the problem isn’t going away anytime soon. We’ve grown by about 15 to 20 percent in the past three years, and we’re hoping to grow another 10 percent this year. We’ve hired a full-time staff person for the first time ever in Boston, the second oldest arm in the organization.”
Eric primarily helps with plug-ins to Salesforce to capture donations, integrate application systems, and track those involved with Minds Matter.
“We’re in the third year of a transition from paper-based applications into a Salesforce system that’s running nationally to help the whole organization understand our student population. By using those metrics, we can better run the program and better communicate to our donors,” he said.
The end goal is to support the work that became so near and dear to him in the first place.
“I think mentorship is one of the most meaningful things that one can do,” he said. “Working personally with someone who is driven to succeed and having the opportunity to cultivate that passion into something amazing is the most rewarding experience I’ve had.”
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