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How a Mentor Can Make All the Difference

Preparing for young adulthood can be intimidating at times. Even though you may be surrounded by peers who are experiencing the same transition in their lives, it’s common to feel unsure of where you’re headed. Sometimes, having a mentor to help guide you can make all the difference. 

People’s alum Jonathan Alday knows the impact a mentor can have. At People’s, he became a talented violinist, which allowed him to perform at summer camps like Birch Creek and festivals like Interlochen and YOLA National, where he played under famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Jonathan graduated from Northside College Preparatory High School in 2021 and headed to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to major in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. He’s an accomplished student and musician. But Jonathan says his path to where he is now “was riddled with uncertainty.”

Jonathan Alday stands at the direct left of conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

One thing that helped him navigate this uncertainty? Having a mentor at The People’s Music School. “My mentor, Ariel Garcia, was a lifesaver. He was very dedicated to making my college application process and financial aid process as simple and structured as possible. There’s so much information about the college application process and financial aid that one has to sort through, especially as a first-generation college student.”

It’s undoubtedly a complicated process, but Ariel, violinist and Community Manager at People’s, knew from the beginning that Jonathan was extremely capable. “Within minutes of meeting him, I could tell he was driven, ambitious, and most importantly, a good person.” 

Ariel feels he was able to be a better mentor because of the mentor he had at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Alfonso Morales. “Of his innumerable good qualities, his compassion is what I valued the most and I believe it is a vital part of the mentor-mentee relationship.”

It is this reciprocal dynamic that makes a good mentor. Ariel says he “felt (and hoped) that Jonathan learned many things from our time working together. What I later realized was just how much I learned from him and how it propelled me to be a better version of myself.”

The mentor that Jonathan found in Ariel was just one of the ways he experienced the strong sense of community at People’s. “A lot of my most memorable experiences with TPMS relate to my connections with others in the community and just enjoying their company and individuality. I always will try to actively find and build these communities because I know how important they are to my success and the success of others.” 

As for what Jonathan’s doing now? “I started writing articles for the sports section in the [Daily Illini] newspaper. I still participate in orchestra as a non-major musician and just take more time to pick up old hobbies like video games, playing the guitar, or reading. It all paid off…I’m attending a college that I love that has the right environment and resources for me, studying something I’m interested in and all without financial barriers.”

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