Bianca and Candy trace their relationship back to a tutoring and mentorship program in the 1990s.
(The spotlight is a monthly Sunday feature profiling Sisters, Sistas and everything in between)
Once, I signed up to be a mentor through a church program. Things started out well, but as time wore on, I became the worst mentor in the world. It was the result of several things — I had job woes and was in the process of moving to a new state, it was difficult to arrange plans with the young girl, it was hard to get her to open up, — but I’ll save that for another post.
They both share a fondness for makeup and glittery. They both just so happened to wear similar glittered shoes on this trip to a museum.
I’m excited to write this month’s Sista Spotlight because it revolves around a mentorship that has lasted nearly 20 years. My buddy Bianca was a high school student when she met a seven-year-old girl who had signed up for Raising Hispanic Academic Achievement (RHAA), which a student-led program Bianca helped operate. Bianca took a liking to Candy and made sure the young girl had a math tutor at the Saturday sessions, took her on museum trips and over the years shared in their passion for make up and glittery shoes. But I’m not one to put words in anyone’s mouth. Here’s what they had to say.
Spotlight on: Bianca, 34 and Candy, 23, Sistas for 18 years
Location: Bronx, NY (Bianca) and Washington D.C. suburbs (Candy)
Candy: “When I first met (Bianca), she was such a friendly and warm-hearted person. I must admit my first day at the program, I stayed by her because I did not know anyone else there.”
Bianca: “I tutored Candy each Saturday that we were both at (RHAA). There were times when I couldn’t and she had another tutor (and was mad about that and told me!). The way RHAA worked was youth-led in that the youth leaders managed certain parts of running the school and when I gained some of those responsibilities I had limited time to tutor her fully. .. But I *always* got her a tutor who I knew personally to help her out and checked up on her too before the day was over.”
How did the relationship develop?
Bianca: “When she was in second or third grade is when we took our first trip to the Museum of Women in the Arts, a field trip that we had planned as part of our responsibilities to help the school run.
“Without any planning on our parts, we are wearing the same shoes! Candy’s shoes are in a different glittery color than mine, but they are the same nonetheless. We are seriously always already on the same vibration!”
Candy: “Common interest between Bianca and I would have to make-up. We are such fans for cute make-up especially from MAC. I think we enjoy talking and sight-seeing. We barely get to talk much but when we do we definitely can pick up from where we left off.”
Still mentor/mentee relationship? Or are you friends now?
Candy: “At this moment in my life (Bianca) will forever be my mentor. But it did involve into a closer friendship over the time.
“She is the best role model I could ever be blessed to have in my life. She has always guided me with the wise words to keep me going forward. She has always inspired me to be a strong Hispanic female who will be able to overcome anything.”
Bianca: “She’s my oldest friend and I’m so proud to have nurtured and maintained a relationship with her. I think I may still play a mentor role in her life but that our relationship has definitely evolved. She has two older sisters and is an aunt four times over, so there are some ways that she mentors me now. For example, I’ve learned from Candy and have been reminded of my endurance. Candy is very social and popular and as I’ve gotten older I’ve become a bit more introverted, so I learn from her, or am reminded by her, of tips and ways to be more social.
“I get pride from our friendship. Our friendship is one of my greatest accomplishments and I tell her that at least once a year! Having Candy in my life has shown me how to be a better friend, how to be present for my friends, what it means to have delayed gratification and the importance of chosen family. I know that if I ever needed anything Candy would offer it to me if she could.”
Current role of Sista(er)hood in your life?
Candy: “My relationship with other females is okay I would say. I tend to make friends with older females than the ones closer to my age. I would not mind making more female friends of any age group. I actually enjoy seeing another female view on society, especially with the different topics that come up on the news.”
Bianca: “My closest friendships are with other women, especially women of Color like Candy (and you). When you move to a new town and “leave” some of your friends and have to build new friendships that’s hard! I’ve been doing it, but only through the examples of friendships I have back at home.
“I think I’ve embraced an idea of building a community where the women in my life know they can depend on me and one another if ‘ish gets real’ and we need care and support. Some of us are partnered, others are not, and as we age there are new/more issues that arise that none of us are really super prepared for so we are learning together, but it’s good to know we have that network.”