Making an Impact through Mentoring: Meet Dejonae Collins
In honor of National Volunteer Month, we are delighted to feature an APCH alumnus who is also a current APCH volunteer! Dejonae Collins has been volunteering with the LIFE Mentoring program for the past three years, and was recently honored with a special award at our annual Volunteer and LIFE Mentoring Award Ceremony.
One of five children, Dejonae’s mother and father kept her, and her sisters, on tight schedules of academic and enrichment activities while they were growing up in Los Angeles. Dejonae’s love of dance is what brought her to A Place Called Home, where she studied under Monica Guy who co-founded APCH’s original dance studio program in 2003, along with her famous sister Jasmine Guy.
Beyond her dancing, Dejonae credits many pivotal moments in her personal journey to her involvement in mentorship programs. After her days as an APCH member, Dejonae became a mentee at MOSTe (Motivating Our Students Through Experience), her first exposure to mentoring, and an experience that she says helped set her up for success in college.
After graduating from college, Dejonae dove into public relations work and developed an impressive resume and mastery of relationship building and networking. In 2018, feeling eager to share her wisdom and experience with the next generation of young female leaders, she set out on a journey to find a mentoring program she could join and found herself back at home, A Place Called Home.
“I wanted to help a girl any way I can….as a mentor I get to experience a lot of firsts with her, which is awesome. Even during COVID, we’ll do remote activities together using FaceTime.”
Dejonae has been APCH member Jacqueline’s mentor for three years at an exciting and significant time in Jacqueline’s life, as she is in her senior year of high school, preparing to head to college in the Fall. “The transition from high school to college is a big one. I was very well prepared, thanks to my mentors, to navigate the university system. I want to help her in any way I can.” Dejonae explained. Dejonae shared that her mentee has actively involved her in her journey to college, leaning on her willingness to share her lived experience and inviting Dejonae to write a letter of recommendation that would accompany her applications. “The process of writing that letter was super emotional for me”, Dejonae shared. “It’s really cool to feel like you’re making an impact on someone else’s life….I look forward to being at her college graduation.”
When asked for the best piece of advice Dejonae learned from her mentors that she has passed on to her mentee, she offered “It’s important to tell anyone and everyone your dream.” Dejonae felt the weight of that advice as she herself recently transitioned into a new position in the entertainment industry that was the result of sharing widely her dream to work for a major studio. Dejonae is now at Paramount Pictures and on her path to her auspicious dream job of Chief Marketing Officer. And when asked what she plans to do once she reaches that professional pinnacle, Dejonae responded, “I plan to bring other BIPOC women with me and give back to my community.”
At A Place Called Home, volunteerism and community engagement are key ingredients to our growth-focused programs and the development of our extraordinary young people. APCH Alumni, like Dejonae, who achieve so much following their time as members and circle back to inspire the next generation are the ultimate prize, but volunteerism is for everyone.
For those considering volunteering as a mentor at APCH, or elsewhere, Dejonae advised, “Definitely explore it. It feels good to instill positivity in someone. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just listening, providing unique small experiences, those moments can have a huge impact on a young person.”
If you are interested in learning more about the APCH LIFE Mentoring program, please contact us today.