DSABC mentor, student 'a perfect match'
By Robin Provey
Elisa Pica, a mentor with Danbury Student and Business Connection (DSABC) remembers back to her childhood when she was painfully shy and speaking comfortably with people took some time. When she started mentoring a shy second-grader nearly eight years ago, she said it was easy to relate to her. The student, Adaizah Tabora, is now a freshman at Danbury High School.
"We were a perfect match," Pica said.
Pica started mentoring Adaizah, who is also in the Danbury Early College Opportunity program offered at DHS, while at Mill Ridge Intermediate School and followed her to Rogers Park Middle School and finally DHS.
Pica said that while she relates to the shyness, she also sees that today's teens live in a very different world.
"There are still pressures from your friends, and the awkward communication with adults and learning to make good decisions, but then there's the whole other world that social media opens up for young people," said Pica, who is retired from Cartus Corporation. "It can be confusing and sometimes it's hard to talk to another adult about it, and that's where a mentor can offer advice and help guide a teen through making better decisions."
Despite her early reticence, Adaizah appreciated Pica's patience; the two played games like Candyland and colored quietly until they got to know each other better.
"It was actually really fun, and I took the opportunity that she could help me, like a best friend," Adaizah said. "I like being able to tell her things and her being there."
Pica said that the relationship has enhanced her life as well and she has gotten to know Adaizah's mother and has attended her school moving up ceremonies.
"She's getting older and I'm getting younger," said Pica. "We play and we still color. This gives us an opportunity to talk about choices and making the right choice."
Adaizah said sometimes other students and friends see her with Pica during their weekly meeting at the school, and "they want to have a mentor. They see me drawing and ask questions about what we do. My friends go through things and some don't have anyone to talk to."
Adaizah sees some teens her age making poor decisions, especially regarding social media issues, and feels that Pica helps her through this and encourages her to talk to other adults, such as her parents or teachers and school counselors. Adaizah said that she's learned to share her feelings with Pica and to work through those events that happen during the teenage years.
"Over the years, I got to know her a lot," said Adaizah, adding that her life has been different because of her mentor's presence in her life. She feels more confident and a lot less shy.
Adaizah's favorite subject is science, although she is considering a career in social work so she can help others. She also has a business mentor in DECO and wants to give back what has been given to her.
Over the years, Pica said she's seen Adaizah blossom from a very shy and unsure little girl into an extremely bright and poised teenager.
"She's become more confident and talkative," Pica said. "I notice more and more that when she sees me, she's genuinely happy to see me."
But Adaizah isn't the only one who has grown and benefited from the mentoring program.
"I see how hard it is to be a kid, especially with all the technology. I worry about her, but she has a good head on her shoulders. Still, it's opened my eyes to all the struggles, and she's not afraid to tell me things," Pica said. "The best part has been watching her grow up into a beautiful young lady."