Coming Full Circle
Often those individuals who have benefited from a life-changing opportunity want to give back to others. Mary Permaul, one of 518 ElevatED’s first program participants from Albany High School, is a prime example.
Mary’s family immigrated to the United States just a few years before she started high school. She availed herself of every opportunity offered and forged the way for relationships and values that have continued throughout her life. Now, she’s doing that for others.
Embracing every opportunity
As the oldest of five children, Mary’s parents wanted more for her than they had. Mary was introduced to 518 ElevatED in middle school by her guidance counselor who recognized her potential. Once Mary started the program, she embraced every opportunity and easily accepted the direction, assistance, and support she received.
Even when things go wrong, they go right
Despite all good intentions, the mentoring portion of the program to which Mary was looking forward did not work out the way she had hoped. Her original mentor left unexpectedly, and a search for a new mentor was unsuccessful. Then surprisingly, a mentor already working with another Scholar decided she would have TWO scholars. Mary looks back at that time fondly, and although she and the other scholar barely knew each other, that pairing forged a friendship that is still strong today!
Following your path
After graduating from the College of Saint Rose with a bachelor’s degree in public communication, Mary followed each opportunity that came her way, something she learned early on through 518 ElevatED. Her work led her to pursue a master’s degree in community mental health counseling. She was a family specialist for 11 years and then a supervisor at a homeless shelter. Teaching was always in the back of her mind, and that became a reality when she was sought out andhired for an adjunct position at Hudson Valley Community College and is now on a tenure track. When you do the work and follow your heart, opportunities will come.
Mary feels strongly that the value provided to Scholars through this program cannot be understated. “This program has brought a lot into my life, even things beyond the educational opportunities,” noted Mary. “I not only met my closest friend who was a fellow Scholar, but I also owe meeting my partner.” He was an employee of the company that sponsored Mary whom she met upon completing 518 ElevatED.
Becoming a mentor was the next natural step for Mary. She was scared, at first, wondering if she could provide the support and guidance that a Scholar needs. She quickly learned that to be a mentor “you don’t have to be the best at anything, you just need to have some time and be genuine – that’s what matters most.” Since Mary has been on both sides, she knows the connections that 518 ElevatED’s community builds will last a lifetime, and she is proud to continue to be a part of it.
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