The mentor beside you

For Jennifer Creel ’12, mentorship began at Peddie. “My Peddie experience was incredibly formative. I can remember endless mentors. Marisa Green. Marc Onion. Alyssa Morreale. Elizabeth Sherman. So many people who took endless amounts of time for me, answering my questions about anything and everything, and fueling my curiosity.”

As chief operating officer at Attollo Prep, Creel pays her mentors’ patience and commitment forward, one student at a time. Attollo Prep is a college access program in the Lancaster, Pa. area. Creel and her staff work with diverse, underrepresented, high-achieving groups of high school juniors and seniors to instill them with leadership qualities and provide support to them on the path to college.

“Lancaster is a really interesting place,” said Creel. “Its diversity is exponentially increasing and is projected to continue to rise. It’s a hub for refugees and immigrants, in addition to Amish families who have been here for hundreds of years. Affluent younger entrepreneurs are starting to see the area as a hub for innovation. Its complexity lends itself to being the perfect location for this program.” 

"While you may not realize it in this very moment, you are significant. You are influential. You are forging a path for those who are to come."

The students begin as Attollo Recruits. For six weeks, they arrive at Attollo Prep at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. They learn Attollo’s six core pillars to success and master the Rubik’s cube in under 90 seconds. When they pass, the students become Attollo Scholars, and a world of support opens up for them. In the months that follow, scholars receive unlimited SAT and ACT Prep and college application support, including essay writing, FAFSA walkthroughs and scholarship negotiation. They also gain access to Attollo Startup and Attollo Code, programs which give students access to additional education in the fields of entrepreneurship and technology. Creel summarizes, “We’re here as mentors for them.”

“A lot of them have stories of immigrating from Chad, Ethiopia, Syria. They’re first-generation students. The college process is really difficult, especially without a mentor or a parent who can talk you through the process, understand it and empathize with you. To help you write the best college essay you can, really articulate your story, and open up about the hardship you’ve been through.”

As a first-generation college graduate, Creel is not so different from her students. That’s part of what makes her mentorship so effective. “I didn’t know what I was doing in the college process,” she said. “I’m endlessly grateful for the amount of time that my mentors afforded me at Peddie to ensure that all my questions were answered, that I was making the best choices for me and that I was trusted with leadership roles while expanding the scope of my world.”

For students currently at Peddie, Jennifer Creel has this to say: “First and foremost, take advantage of every single opportunity Peddie has to offer. The door is always open, and the mentors that you have there are on your team, 100%. Go to them for guidance, go to them for exposure, go to them for opportunity. 

“Second, I would say that by taking advantage of those opportunities, you are inherently being a mentor to all of the younger Peddie students that are looking up to you. While you may not realize it in this very moment, you are significant. You are influential. You are forging a path for those who are to come. By taking advantage of every amazing opportunity Peddie has to offer you’re in turn building that path. 

“And then for those who are looking for mentors: they’re right next to you, being authentic, curious and genuine. The natural blend of cultures and people that Peddie brings together provides endless opportunity.”