• Matthew McSwain


After a year of hearing the word “unprecedented” in nearly every sentence and circumstance, the McNair Educational Foundation held fast to its thirty-year precedent of mentoring students towards success.

On May 15 at 10 a.m. the foundation will host mentors at McNair field for brunch, reflect on a year of virtual mentorship, and celebrate the intentionality of mentors with middle school and high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monica Lee, the foundation’s executive director, plans to also commemorate mentors who have served the foundation for 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Monica says, “Our mentors are a dedicated, caring group of people, and that has never been more evident than during the pandemic.”

The McNair mentorship program has over 200 volunteers from the community committing their time to make sure students are on a track to graduation and attending postsecondary education. It is the largest program the foundation offers students in Rutherford County.

Students are paired with a community mentor from Rutherford County when they are in seventh grade, and each mentor meets with their respective students twice per semester to review grades, plan class schedules, discuss passions and extra-curriculars, register for the SAT/ACT, research colleges and complete postsecondary applications. The mentorship program is vital for ensuring long-term success for students.

When asked about the impact her McNair mentor had on her senior year, Emma Lovelace says, “It was really helpful to have someone to check in to make sure I have completed all that I need to during the college application process. It was especially meaningful to have someone express an interest in my future plans, because I was not seeing my teachers or counselors as often as I would during a normal school year.”

The foundation plans to return to in-person mentorship in August 2021 at the start of the new school year.

Author: Holly Sherburne - Journalism and Media Major at UNC Chapel Hill

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