Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
District 7 mentors and Franklin High School mentees participate in the Caltrans Adopt-a-School program.

by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 09/2007

District 7 mentoring programs give employees the opportunity to acheive satisfaction through helping others.

District 7 employees who wish to contribute to the lives of others have two means of doing so at work: the internal Career Mentoring Program and the Adopt-a-School project.

The recently-developed Career Mentoring Program offers benefits to both the mentor and the mentee. Mentors have the opportunity to pass on their experience, increase their professional network, demonstrate their ability to develop skills and abilities in others and, most importantly, make a difference. Mentees improve their skills, learn management techniques, obtain career guidance and interact with successful experts in their field.

Joining the program is easy: Mentors sign up with their Division Coordinator, whose name is posted on the intranet at http://t7www/mentor. Mentees visit the web page for available mentors and then request a mentor through the Division Coordinator. If the chosen mentor accepts, the Division Coordinator informs the mentee and a partnership begins.

�This is an exciting program because it benefits both individual employees and the Department,� said Permits Chief Zoe Yue, Program Coordinator. �We hope to expand our pool of qualified employees while giving those who have successfully promoted the satisfaction of giving back.�

For those whose interest is helping teens, there is the Adopt-a-School project, which is sponsored by the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office. James Deno with EEO has coordinated the program for the last three of the six years it has been in operation. Originally called the Franklin High School Transportation Academy, this year the name has been changed to the Arroyo Seco Academy. The focus previously had been limited to engineering but now it is open to other disciplines.

�The program has really grown,� Deno said. �Initially, it was a struggle to get four or five mentors." Last year, there were close to 20. "This year, we are hoping for at least that many," he added.

The process consists of a mentor/mentee match-up at Franklin High School (in Highland Park), based on student interests, hobbies and likes/dislikes. Students are matched with mentors of their same sex. The next event is Shadow Day, when the mentees come to the District Office to observe their mentors at work. For the rest of the school year, mentors and mentees keep in touch through email and phone calls and at least one more official meeting at the school. At graduation time, mentors attend a celebration at Portos Bakery in Glendale. Caltrans presents a yearly college scholarship, which is financed through fundraisers such as book fairs. Last year, the district offered a $1,000 scholarship; this year�s amount is yet to be determined.

Two hundred and fifty students are involved in the program, which also recruits other agencies and the private sector to participate. �They really appreciate Caltrans because we are professional but also approachable and caring,� said Deno, a Franklin High School alum.

�It�s a neat program and really rewarding,� he added. �Volunteers are always glad they made the time.� 

Deno also said that there are many people who made this program such a success and who he wishes to thank.  He said, "I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the following people who donated their time and talents to this worthy program: Dawn Helou, Judy Pouncy, Michael C. Lim, Eric D. Chau, Mirna Dagher, Dina El-Tawansy, Maria D. Rodriquez, Rashid Ansarie, Khanh Q. Nguyen, Marcia Graves, Ada Osoy, Shahriar Yadegari, Marco Ruano, Will Carpio, Arian Abrishami, Refugio Dominguez and Tirsit Kebede."


Franklin Academy participants: (left to right) External Affairs Deputy Deborah Robertson; Shahriar Yadegari, James Deno, Dawn Helou; Maria D. Rodriguez, Khanh Q. Nguyen, Eric D. Chau, Marcia Graves, Defugio Dominguez, student Yim Tam, District Director Douglas R. Failing and Marian Woo. Permits Chief Zoe Yue, Caltrans Mentor Program Coordinator, explains the process to potential mentors. James Deno, Adopt-a-School Coordinator, is a graduate of Franklin HIgh School. Franklin High School student Andrew Martinez wins Caltrans scholarship.  Left to right: Program Coordinator James Deno, Karina Estrada (2006 scholarship award winner), Andrew Martinez, and from Construction Tirsit Kebeda and Maria D. Rodriguez.