Minnesota State University, Mankato student athlete Andrew Yogei gets involved with the Mankato community in a variety of ways, but being part of the YMCA Brother/Sister program is one that stands out to him.
Yogei, who is a junior and defensive tackle on the MSU football team, has been a big brother for the YMCA for a year and a half.
He first heard about this program from one of his fellow teammates while attending a Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meeting.
Soon realizing he wanted to be a part of the program, he described the process to be fairly easy, from filling out the application to undergoing the background checks and matching process.
“For me and my mentee it was really easy to connect, since we both play football, so we always talk about that,” said Yogei.
The YMCA has their mentors fill out a personality test along with their availability to ensure each mentor and their mentee are able to create a bond.
Even with his busy schedule juggling school and sports, Yogei makes an effort to meet with his mentee at least two to three times per month while partaking in a variety of activities.
“This one day I had my mentee come to the football facility and I introduced him to some of the coaches and let him tour and take pictures in the locker room. After he said to me, ‘I want to be like you when I grow up’ and that meant a lot to me.”
With the YMCA having a need for more male mentors in the program, mentees may be waiting for months until a mentor becomes available.
Those who currently participate in this program encourage the parents to be involved as much as possible to be that point of contact when setting up meetings.
“The YMCA does a lot to facilitate our relationship with the mentees. They have programs every month that gather other mentors and their mentees around the area to get together and do stuff,” Yogei shared.
Stemming from childhood, Yogei voiced how the influential people in his life growing up helped shape him into who he is today.
“There was a football player I looked up to in middle school and I remember thinking that one day I’ll be like him, so I think that experience has shaped me into how I am a role model now for my mentee,” Yogei shared. “I give a lot of credit to my role models growing up for teaching me how to act.”
Making a difference in someone else’s life is something he found to be impactful for himself as well as his mentee.
“I always tell my mentee that as much as he thinks he is the one being impacted, I truly cherish the time we get to spend together because it reminds me of the little kid I used to be,” said Yogei.
This upcoming summer, however, Yogei will be out of town as he landed an internship out of state, but he hopes to still communicate with his mentee long distance.
The Brother/Sister YMCA program aims to create a unique bridge connecting caring adult mentors to local youth. Being a mentor means you care about building one’s self-confidence, social and communication skills, positive behaviors, and help improve relationships at home and within the community. For those interested in becoming a mentor, visit the YMCA website.
Header Photo: Andrew Yogei is a junior at MSU who is majoring in accounting and planning to intern at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in New York this summer. (Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)
Write to Julia Barton at Julia.Barton@mnsu.edu