By Lisa Brackeen:
My 1st year as a mentor, I had no idea honestly what to expect. Although I felt the mentor class taught me well, there is still nothing compared to the real deal outside of the classroom and guidance of Luckyday. I was given 5 random girls to mentor, and I was scared! So many thoughts raced through my mind – “Will they like me? Are they going to think I’m weird? What if I fail them? What if…” So I remember texting all of my mentees about a month or so before school started letting them know who I am and basically welcoming them. The first person to text me back was Kaitlyn Skinner. I could tell in her tone of message that she was pretty nervous for a lot of reasons – the only girl on our floor not having a roommate, being so busy with band, not deciding on a major yet…she was rightfully nervous! When I finally did meet her, I knew immediately that we would be good friends. We just clicked, and her go-with-the-flow vibes definitely registered with me (because I’m sort of like that, too). What I did not know, however, is how much Kaitlyn would challenge me to grow on several levels.
Kaitlyn is super adventurous and simply a cool chick. And because I’m really into spontaneity as well, we went on many random adventures! I believe those were the times our friendships really grew…the times where we could both be real and free all at once while having tons of fun. I remember times throughout her freshman year when she would be overwhelmed or worried about something, so we would just go do something random like pedicures to de-stress. By the way, my very first pedicure ever was with Kaitlyn (I’ll always remember that!). Or if she wasn’t feeling well, I’d bring her some medicine and soup. Just little things like that really built our friendship. Also, as a mentor, you really think that you are always going to be the strong one for your mentees to lean on or grow from but sometimes it is the other way around. There were several times when Kaitlyn has been there for me and been super encouraging! She always pays attention to details…one time I told her it has always been on my bucket list to go see a live performance of the Nutcracker. You know what she does? She actually buys some tickets for us to go see the Nutcracker ballet at the ORPHEUM Theatre in New Orleans! I cried, it was the sweetest gift ever. So we went and had a blast (it was such a beautiful ballet!). One day, she dared me to participate in the Luckyday fitness challenge. I really didn’t want to, but because she challenged me, I knew I had to accept it. So because of her, I actually participated in the challenge and won a scholarship at the end of the year!
What I really love about our friendship though, is how it has continued to grow. Even after her freshman year, we have continued to be good friends and still hang out. And I have truly enjoyed seeing how much she has grown and found passions of her own. She went from feeling like someone who was super lost and floating in the wind, to finding a closer place to her purpose and own passions. I’m so proud of who she has become and is becoming…and I’m so thankful that I’m not only a part of her life journey but she is a part of mine as well.