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tnAchieves mentee becomes mentor, inspiring others to help teens, young adults attend college

After surviving a deadly car wreck months before graduation, Hailey Green is helping other college students stay the course.

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — If you're looking to help teens and young adults in Shelby County, tnAchieves needs more than 500 mentors. More than 3,000 mentors are needed statewide.

In 2017, college freshman Hailey Green was excited about a new beginning.

“I always knew I wanted to go to college,” said Green. “I wanted to go in the medical field.”

However, like many new students on campus, Green needed a little guidance.

“I just didn't know what I wanted to do,” said Green. “So that's when the Tennessee Promise or tnAchieves kind of fell into my lap." 

Tennessee Promise gives local students the opportunity to attend a state community or technical college tuition-free. tnAchieves is a non-profit that operates Tennessee Promise in 90 of the state’s 95 counties.

“The first year the program launched in 2015," said Graham Thomas, deputy director of government affairs and community partnerships with tnAchieves. "We have been pretty steadily over 60,000 each year afterward."  

Tennessee Promise helps students get in school, but tnAchieves helps students stay in school.

“We operate a 9,000-person volunteer mentoring program,” said Thomas. “We have a coaching program when students are in college to help make sure they're successful. I think the encouragement piece is the most important thing our mentors have always done,”

A mentor is a part of what Green needed to stay motivated after a terrible wreck during her last semester at Southwest Tennessee Community College.

“I had my car wreck, and I fractured L four and L five and my spine,” said Green. “My mentor, she was phenomenal. And she was there every step of the way."

Because of that support and a lot of hard work, Green recovered and graduated on time.

“When I graduated, I told my mom, ‘I have never been more proud of a degree of an associate's degree,’” said Green.

Now, she’s a junior radiology student at Methodist University. Also, this former mentee is now a tnAchieves mentor, paying it forward one student at a time.

“I'm excited to get to help ease that transition and help you know, get them on the right path,” said Green.

To become a mentor, you must be:

  • 21-years-old or older
  • Pass a background check
  • Commit to helping students one hour per month  

“Our mentors work in small groups of about five students,” said Thomas. “So, you get to know them. We've got a couple of different options this year, we have options for mentors to participate in-person or virtually.”

The deadline to apply is December 3. Click here to sign up.