“Overall, the experience of completing eight essays brought new connections and incredible people into my life, but, most important, it made me open up about my life and myself.” ... My mentor “understood me from day one ... we had a great relationship ... this program helped me open up about everything.” — ANGELA MARULANDA

“Going through the Talk Story, Write Story program was a blessing in disguise. I got to meet a complete stranger in my community that has now become my best friend. ... I felt like all of my hard work in the beginning of Talk Story, Write Story wasn’t paying off, so I quit. But after talking to my mentor ... and my counselor, I realized that by quitting everything, including school, I wasn’t making a good decision. I needed to finish.” — ARRIS THORNTON

“Each of the five languages I study was like one of my children, and naturally one wants the best for their children. I was determined to write optimal essays, no matter how much time I had to spend. ... What shocked me was the precision with which students were paired with mentors. ... I felt like I had been paired with the older version of myself ... upon completing this” essay “process I have made a huge step from boy to man.” — JERROLD STARR

“My mentor ... helped me dig deep and discover what I wanted. ... I honestly could not have accomplished what I did without her. Through the long hours planning and writing and stressing, I discovered myself in ways I had never thought to explore before. I pushed my limits and accomplished much more than I ever thought possible.” — LISA LANTZ

“I see finishing this as an amazing accomplishment, but what’s even more amazing is the group of people who have been behind the scenes the entire time. These are the people who pushed us, encouraged us and supported us. ... I like that there are other people who see the value in helping minorities and pushing for equality.” ... My mentor “is one of the most brilliant and interesting people I’ve ever met.” — MADELEINE TIPTON

She “inspired me to fight to achieve my goals. She’s a very successful woman and a model of someone I would want to be like. ... I am glad I got the chance to work with someone like her. ... I am really proud of the essays I completed ...” and “extremely thankful for what I learned ... about myself as a person and a writer.”— MAIA THOMPSON

“We hit the ground running.” ... He “definitely knew what he was talking about ...” and “made me feel confident in my writing. ... Knowing who I want to be has allowed me to consciously take steps toward being that person. Instead of just living life without really thinking about it, now I think about every action I take and how that action will affect me later on. ... I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.” — REBECCA VEGA

“Telling people your story won’t make them see you differently, but it will inversely make you see yourself differently. You realize things about yourself when telling people about your deepest struggles, and it’s really unique ... dedicating yourself to something helps you better your work ethic. This was a rigorous process, but it felt so uplifting and refreshing to work so hard.” — SHANELLE BROOKS

“Luckily, I had a whole team of people with me along the way, and they all were very exceptional and played a significant role in the completion of the scholarships. ... Most important” were “my mentor and his wife. ... This is the most support I ever felt in my life ... most of the people helping me were complete strangers four months ago. ... I doubted myself and my abilities” but have “developed more confidence in myself.” –TAMEKA STENNIS

“I shared my experiences and successes with him. ... I always thought that I was average ...” but he “made me realize how extraordinary I was. ... The most important thing that I gained from this experience was the new friends I’ve made. ... Not many students get to work with so many amazing people, and I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to be part of Talk Story, Write Story.” — VY LE

Top photo Kim Wade / Talk Story, Write Story. From left, standing, are Jerrold Starr, Angela Marulanda, Vy Le and Shanelle Brooks. Seated from left are Madeleine Tipton, Maia Thompson, Rebecca Vega, Lisa Lantz, Tameka Stennis and Arris Thornton. All are involved in the Talk Story, Write Story program, which pairs high school students with community mentors to assist them in writing essays that tell their stories.


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