December 2017
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December's Mentor of the Month
Steve Sessums
1. How did you become involved in mentoring through the Hillsborough Education Foundation?
I first became involved with HEF by being invited to a donor breakfast by my good friend, Luis Garcia. I went and was so impressed with the organization and what it is attempting to do, that I made a modest continuing financial contribution. This led to receiving emails and mailings about the work of the Foundation. As a result I heard about the need for mentors. I was reducing my work load as a lawyer and had more free time. I came and took mentoring training and got my 1 st match. And now, 7 years late, I am still mentoring.

2. What  has been the most rewarding part of mentoring?
The most rewarding part of mentoring is watching the maturing of a student over time as they progress in their studies and in their social awareness. Being a part of a young person's life and trying to stimulate their ideas and broaden their horizon's to reach their full potential is exciting.

I see so much in them that I lived through at their challenging age. I love the openness and sharing that comes with a closeness with someone several generations younger than me.

3. What do you believe is the key to being a quality mentor?
To be a quality mentor comes in many different shapes, ages and forms. But an essential part of achieving this is a caring and openness to another person in spite of differences of age and background and to learn from them as they learn from you. Sharing a love of life and the many different paths a meaningful and successful life can be achieved makes this so worthwhile.
4.When you are not working with students, how do you prefer to spend your free time?
My interests are diverse. I love to read and study. I volunteer in other ways like with Meals on Wheels. I like sports and love to play golf and tennis. I work out with a personal trainer and in the gym several days a week and attempt to maintain my physical strength. I've run in the Gasparilla 5K race with my entire family and placed in my age group each of the last 3 years - 2 nd, 1 st and 3 rd. My wife, Diana, and I do so much together and with friends which is rewarding. I organized with my best friend an old man's book club that introduced me to reading in areas that are new to me. Diana and I also have 7 grandchildren who all live out of town but happily spend time in Tampa with us. Finally, I am still practicing law on a limited basis with the firm I started 35 years ago - Sessums Black Caballero and Ficarrotta. 
5. What do you hope your mentee will learn from you?
I hope my mentee learns to love life to the fullest and to see the many opportunities that are open to him both professionally and in his personal life. I hope he learns to embrace determination and grit to work hard to achieve his dreams. And I hope he is aware that happiness comes not just from worldly success but more importantly from the relationships that he has with others along the way in giving and receiving love and friendship. I hope I can play a role in helping him get there. 

See Steve talk about the Take Stock in Children program with some of our amazing TSIC students: 



Skills For Life Report

December: Gratitude

When one takes time to focus on what they have, rather than what they do not, and cultivates an appreciation for someone or something, that is known as gratitude. Expressing gratitude is a valuable tool to boost one's confidence, boost the confidence of those around them, and to help maintain a positive attitude. 

The  Skills for Life   Toolkit has three activities that focus on gratitude and taking the time to notice and reflect upon the things we are thankful for. Research shows that people who regularly practice gratitude experience:

* Stronger immune systems
* Less bothered by aches and pains
* Lower blood pressure
* Exercise more and take better care of their health
* Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
* Higher levels of positive emotions
* More alert, alive, and awake
* More joy and pleasure
* More optimism and happiness
* More helpful, generous, and compassionate
* More forgiving
* More outgoing
* Feel less lonely and isolated.
Along with all these amazing benefits to the student's personal well-being, gratitude also allows them to:

Celebrate the present
Block toxic, negative emotions
Be more resistant to stress 
Have a higher sense of self-worth

Talk with your student this month about gratitude, and complete the activities found in Chapter 4 of the Skills for Life workbook. December is a wonderful month to show appreciation for what we have and gratitude to those who have helped us along the way.

If you have not taken advantage of this toolkit, we recommend contacting William Dailey ( to request a hard copy. Otherwise, please refer to our digital download option list below. If you decide to use it or are currently doing so, please provide us your feedback so we may continue to refine and improve this resource for our mentors and mentees.

Join our NEW
Mentors Facebook Group!

Stay up-to-date on all our Mentor resources and events or share your experiences mentoring for others! 

A NEW virtual meeting place for us to get together -  Join our HEF Mentors Facebook Group today!


Winter College Tour

During the Thanksgiving break, the Hillsborough Education Foundation (HEF) and Men of Vision (MOV) took 38 students on an overnight college tour to some of Florida's top universities. 

After loading up the bus at 6:00 a.m., we traveled to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Ft. Meyers. Students were impressed with the open spaces and relaxed feel to campus. We then traveled to Florida International University (FIU) in Miami by way of "Alligator Alley". Students were surprised to see a bustling campus with a tropical feel. We explored campus facilities, ate lunch in the student union and visited a modern dormitory. After a delicious dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and some impromptu dancing with the live music, we rested our heads for the night. 

The next morning we traveled to Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland for an exciting tour of their tech-savy facilities. Students were amazed at the 3-D printer laboratory and many other features of campus. For our last stop, we made the hike to Orlando to tour the University of Central Florida (UCF). Current HEF staffer and UCF alumni, Julia Carter, took us on an exclusive tour of this huge campus. Students enjoyed learning about the on-campus traditions and heard about the many benefits of attending one of the largest universities in America. 

The college tour was a great experience for these students as many had never stepped foot on a university campus. We believe these type of experiences propel and motivate the student to take ownership of and plan for, their life beyond high school. 

Mark Your Calendar!

Donor Thank You! Bus Tour December 18 HEF
Last Day of Fall Semester
December 22
TSIC Volunteer Day 
January 8 HEF
HEF Scholarship Applications Close January 10

Don't forget Finals are Dec. 18-22!
The College Success Team
William Dailey      Julia Carter      Jocelin Tapia      Anna Laird   
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If you know someone who is interested in mentoring, 
have them visit our website for more information: