Christi Cage graduated in December with a degree in Psychology. Excited and enthusiastic, Christi knew a great job was just around the corner, but her search carried on longer than expected.
That’s when her mentor stepped in.
Prior to graduation, Christi had been a participant in Catholic Charities’ Parent Empowerment Program – a program that supports parents in completing their college education with the goal of moving families out of poverty. Through a partnership with Lubbock Area United Way’s Women United, participants have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor. Someone who can listen and provide advice as parents trek the difficult journey of working, parenting, going to school, and lifting their families out of poverty.
Although the two had only been in a mentoring relationship for a short time prior to Christi’s graduation, Christi’s mentor – Dr. Michelle McCord, Superintendent of Frenship ISD – was invested in Christi’s success. Michelle told us, “My decision to become a mentor with Women United has been such a privilege and a meaningful personal learning experience. In a way, I feel a bit guilty because I feel as if I have benefitted more from our relationship than Christi. Ms. Cage is a brilliant, passionate, enthusiastic, and determined young woman. She overcame many obstacles to obtain a degree in Psychology from Texas Tech. At the same time, she is an engaged, hands-on, and loving single parent to her young son.”
When Michelle called to check in on Christi in her job search, she learned that Christi had yet to find a job that would work with her son’s schedule and help meet the family’s needs. That’s when Michelle realized she had the opportunity to step in and help.
Michelle encouraged Christi to apply to Communities In Schools of the South Plains, a United Way Community Partner and an organization that Michelle has previously served on the board. Then Michelle made a phone call to the organization’s Executive Director, Kenna West. “I was confident that once Kenna met Christi, she would see the value that Christi could bring to the Communities In Schools organization,” Michelle said. She is adamant, though, that all she did was tell Kenna about her mentee. The rest was all Christi.
Christi started in August as the new site coordinator for Westwind Elementary. She was also able to transfer her first-grade son to Westwind, allowing her to play an active role in his education and make the daily family commute a little easier for everyone.
Her scariest day so far in the new job was the day someone came into her office with an ominous, “Dr. McCord is looking for you.” Christi didn’t make the connection between her mentor Michelle McCord and the ominous-sounding Dr. McCord, but when she rounded the corner, she was so excited to see her mentor who had come to see how the new job was going.
Christi says that at the time she didn’t understand why her job search was taking so long but now knows it was worth the wait – “I can see the preparation of greatness.” Michelle speaks glowingly of her school district’s new site coordinator, “In her new role, Christi is positively impacting countless children and families living in Lubbock … If it wasn’t for the Women United Mentoring opportunity, it is likely that Christi and I would never have crossed paths.”