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Graduate is grateful for friendship with mentor
Ashbrook graduate is grateful for friendship with mentorAlthough it’s been two years since her high school graduation, Leticia Fermin is still in touch with her mentor and following her advice.
“She told me to do what makes me happy,” Fermin said. “She told me to stay concentrated on school, and I followed that.”Since graduating from Ashbrook High School in 2013, Fermin enrolled at Gaston College, where she is working toward an associate degree with the intent to transfer to a four-year university. While carrying a full class load five days a week, Fermin is also working the night shift at McDonald’s to help pay tuition.
Fermin said her mentor, Gail Shoemaker, encouraged her to succeed despite the obstacles in her way.“She told me to keep going -- if something is hard, just work it out,” Fermin said.
Fermin and Shoemaker have known each other for 13 years, ever since Fermin was a second grader at Page Primary School.
“She made my day a lot better when she came to visit me,” Fermin said, recalling that she always looked forward to their weekly visits as a chance to share her thoughts and get advice.
“I was just glad to be there and be her friend,” said Shoemaker. “We would talk about anything on her mind. I was just someone she could go to to tell her problems or any worries or concerns.”Since Fermin graduated, the two have stayed in touch through phone calls and an occasional breakfast or lunch together.
Shoemaker said she has enjoyed watching Fermin grow up from a shy second grader into a more confident young woman.
“She has more self-esteem,” Shoemaker said. “I told her how well she was doing and how proud I was of her. That reflected in her grades.”Fermin’s work earned her the 2013 Paul Fuller Mentor Scholarship, which is awarded annually to an outstanding high school senior who has been a part of the mentoring program. Fermin’s scholarship is helping pay her way through Gaston College.
Fermin said she is hoping to study theater at Brevard College or Appalachian State University. She said her theater classes at Ashbrook were her favorites, and she enjoyed working behind the scenes in some of the high school productions. Shoemaker encouraged her interest, and last year gave her a Christmas present of tickets for a production of Les Miserables.
Fermin said she has been grateful for Shoemaker’s friendship and guidance over the years and may one day volunteer to become a mentor for another student.She explained: “You get a chance to learn about someone, their strengths and weaknesses, and help them be a better person. That’s what Mrs. Shoemaker did for me, and I’m happy that she did.”To learn more about becoming a mentor in Gaston County Schools, visit our Mentoring Program page.