By Mary Stetson
I’RAISE volunteer Asia Lee is enjoying getting to know the student she mentors. “We connect really well. She feels heard,” she says of her mentee, Nuwany.
New York City resident Asia Lee has been an I’RAISE mentor since February. Nuwany, a seventh grader, is also from New York.
Their virtual, weekly sessions are always different, ranging from five minutes to an hour. Asia Lee lets Nuwany decide how long their meetings will be and what they will talk about. She challenges her—for example, with journaling her thoughts and feelings—but her mentee doesn’t have to do anything she “doesn’t feel like doing” or isn’t comfortable with. Asia Lee doesn’t want her to feel pressured; the most important thing, she says, is “checking in making sure she’s okay.”
Although sometimes their sessions are brief, and her mentee doesn’t always feel like talking, Asia Lee says, “I always want her to know that someone is here for her.”
Each mentoring session, Asia Lee will “pick her brain” when they meet and ask what is happening in Nuwany’s life. Asia Lee describes their time together as a “weekly check-in to make sure she’s okay.” They will talk about anything Nuwany would like to talk about. Sometimes Asia Lee will ask a question, such as what superhero she would be, “just to have a little fun with it,” the mentor says.
She believes the program has helped Nuwany. “When she updates me, it’s always good things,” Asia Lee says. “I believe she really likes” their mentoring sessions. Nuwany has told her mentor that she doesn’t get into arguments, which is something she may have struggled with in the past.
Asia Lee thinks the mentoring has “been very beneficial” for Nuwany, making her feel "comforted and supported.”
What Asia Lee likes most about the program is helping people through an organization that “has the same likeminded goal: we want to make the world better and make the kids feel better.” She says, “We all have the same goal: we want the kids to be okay.”
Asia Lee is a certified life coach, who has a business, The Leader’s Leader, and a podcast. Her areas of focus include healthy eating, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, spiritual advice, and personal finance—skills that underserved communities need.
Asia Lee’s podcast and Instagram platform allow her to share her knowledge and make a difference in people’s lives.
“It’s been great,” she says of her experience being a mentor with I’RAISE. This is her first time in a mentorship role, although she has done a lot of work in her community.
Asia Lee works with schools as a motivational speaker, a participant in antibullying assemblies, and teaching enrichment classes on topics such as entrepreneurship. She coaches people of all ages using positive psychology to promote leadership, mental and physical well-being, and character development.
She also draws from her own life experiences to better connect with her mentee. One lesson she tries to impart is, “Everything is not always everyone else’s fault. Life is difficult but doesn’t have to be depressing.”
Asia Lee describes her business as helping people who might then help others. “We lead leaders, when you teach them to teach someone else,” so that “we all become leaders,” she says.
To learn more about I’RAISE’s volunteer opportunities, click here. If you are interested in volunteering as a virtual mentor—providing support, guidance, and helping youth develop life skills—click here.
Mary Stetson is a marketing intern at I’RAISE. She is a 2022 graduate of Framingham State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and is also currently doing a service internship with the Commonwealth Corps. She lives on Cape Cod.