Empowering Communities

Mentoring makes a difference

January 29, 2020

Growing up with only his mother on the South Side of Chicago, Shawn Daniel understands the challenges of being raised in a single-parent household.

One thing that helped him overcome those obstacles was having a mentor.

“A lot of the young boys and girls who live in underrepresented communities are growing up with one parent. I grew up without a father,” Daniel said. “Mentorship helps bridge that gap.”

Now an IT manager for ComEd parent company Exelon, Daniel mentors students with similar upbringings.  It’s important to recognize mentors like Daniel and their impact – especially in January, which is National Mentoring Month.

Daniel (right) with student from Life Coaches

“I mentor students through Life Coaches, a program at Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy,” he said. “A group of us work with students on skills that help them with everyday life.”

He spends an hour with the students once a week, coaching them on everything from how to manage conflicts to relationship building. He hopes to help each student reach their full potential.

“Mentoring is important because I can help someone from my own experience. My challenges can be someone else’s shortcut,” Daniel said.  “Mentoring is also a way I stay connected to the community.”

Daniel also mentors students in the ComEd Solar Spotlight program, which exposes African American students to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

Daniel helping a student at Solar Spotlight

“When underrepresented students see someone who is a successful professional that looks and comes from the same background as them, they realize they can be successful too,” he said.

Daniel encourages everyone – regardless of age or background – to find a mentor.

“No matter the challenge, there is someone out there who has gone through similar experiences and will be there to provide guidance,” Daniel said. “To put it simply, if you don’t have a mentor, I recommend getting one.”