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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Every Tuesday on CBS4 News, we share stories about why Mentoring Matters.

This week we met a young woman with a personal journey as both mentor and mentee with City Year Miami.

Dayana Barahona, a City Year staff member at Madison Middle School, mentors eighth-grade students, working one on one with them to improve reading and test-taking skills. Barahona and Juniet Rico are close now, having worked together for over a year.

“The first day of seventh grade when I met her I didn’t talk to her that much I like hated reading I didn’t want to go to class ever,” said Rico. “But the more I kept getting to know here the more I liked going to reading class because I knew every day she was going to be there and she was going to help me more and more and more.”

Barahona knows just how important her role is, having been on the opposite side as a mentee at the very same school.

“The first time I met an AmeriCorp member was during my eighth grade year and I got close to her she mentored me through that whole 8th grade year and then I went to high school and that’s when I got more involved with CY because I met my real actual mentor in my ninth grade year,” said Barahona.

With only Spanish spoken at home, Barahona had difficulty with English. She repeated a year in elementary school and continued to find reading challenging.

“I struggled a lot with the material, reading, so my English classes I was not into reading so that made me not like reading,” she said.

Her City Year mentors helped her improve her skills and became vital in her 11th-grade year, with a life-changing event.

“I got pregnant that’s when everything changed. My mentor with CY they pushed me a lot they kept me going. That drive, they pushed me,” said Barahona. “I had my son in my 12th grade year I didn’t let that stop me, I came back to school, I did all my requirements for graduation and I graduated on time like that. CY kept me motivated, like I didn’t have it home but I had it with my mentors.

By sharing her personal experience, Barahona’s made a big impact on Rico.

I used to give her advice like whatever she was dealing with at the time to help her like stay motivated and not let that challenge she was going through stop her from being great,” said Barahona.

Rico likes reading now and has plans to become a lawyer. She feels lucky to have Barahona on her side.

“I think she’s strong, a very strong person,” said Rico.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

Marybel Rodriguez

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