Dear Caitlin, all the mentors a part of the GEM program, and the other mentors who have inspired me in the past:

As today is national ‘Thank Your Mentor’ day, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of you for not only being so incredibly talented and passionate, but also for encouraging and supporting young people like myself on their journey to discover their talents and passions.

As I reflect on 2018, I am confident one of the best decisions that I made was to join the Girls E-Mentorship program. Through this opportunity, I had the chance to meet and learn from amazing mentors such as yourselves, build essential skills that are helpful in both academic and professional settings, and further understand my own strengths and challenges in this process of self-discovery.

Having immigrated to Canada just over four years ago, I was overwhelmed by the amount of opportunities that suddenly became available to me, as well as my own incompetence as a result of language and cultural barriers. Although my parents were extremely supportive and caring, they also had a hard time adapting to such a big change in their careers and lives; they were unable to provide me with much insight and resources due to their limited professional experience in Canada.

By participating in programs such as GEM and SHAD Valley, I gained access to opportunities that I would’ve never dreamed of having as an ESL student, such as job shadowing at RBC Capital Markets in Downtown Toronto. What I am the most grateful for though, is the amazing people that I have met along the way.

Caitlin, thank you for always being super supportive and kind. I am so glad to have met and become so close with you. Having someone who patiently listens to me, gives me constructive advice, and encourages me to pursue my goals means so much to me. Your kindness, smile, and positive energy always makes me feel better when I am stressed. I always look forward to writing to you every Thursday and meeting with you once in a while to catch up. You’ve especially inspired me through the way you manage your time – balancing work and personal life, all while maintaining meaningful relationships. I look forward to spending more time with you during the rest of the program and possibly even beyond it.

Thank you to all the other accomplished and kind mentors I have met through GEM or elsewhere. The lessons I have learned from you will continue to help me grow as a person. Having a network of people who are able to guide me through the process of planning for my post-secondary education and future career is extremely helpful and important. Your stories and experiences empower me to believe that I will be able to achieve my own aspirations with dedication and determination.

As I continue to explore my future as well as the world at large, knowing that there is someone that I can look up to and trust will always be my source of light and warmth during times of darkness. Once again, thank you for your compassion and generosity. You have led me to find the power within.

Yours truly,

Shirley Ren