Mohawk partners with YMCA on Newcomer Mentorship Program

Published in Momentum Fall 2021

Mohawk has partnered with the YMCA Newcomer Mentoring Program to offer mentorship matches to learners at the college and in the community. 

Through this collaboration, we expanded the benefits of the YMCA Newcomer Mentoring Program to the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) students at Mohawk College. We also provided access to more mentors for the YMCA of Hamilton Burlington Brantford to meet the increasing demand and serve internationally trained newcomers in the community, says Yudara Weerakoon, a Training Specialist in Mohawk’s Community Access Engagement and Research. 

“We felt we could leverage our staff, alumni and community partners, to boost the number of mentors they were getting.”  

That has certainly been the case. In fact, in the first cohort, there were more than twice as many volunteer mentors as there were newcomer mentees.  

“We’ve now got more than 100 mentors in a pool, so we can facilitate many more applicants to the program.” 

It was delayed in 2020 by the pandemic, but three cohorts are going through the program in 2021. 

Mentors and newcomer mentees have met virtually during the three-month program, with many saying they have really appreciated the connection during these challenging times, says Weerakoon. 

Moutaz Sheikh Alard is a Workplace Preparation Program (WPP) student and an internationally trained graphic designer. 

“My mentor, Christina, has many experiences in the workplace and IT field, which gave me the opportunity to extend my knowledge and prepare for my next career.” 

Mentor Christina Birmingham, a business owner and human resources consultant in Waterdown, says her mentee had concerns about fitting into a workplace in Canada.  

“I think I equipped him with advice he could use. He relaxed, and his personality came out during the course of our meetings. It was so rewarding.”  

Learn more about the mentorship program: 

Photo caption: Mentor Christina Birmingham