As an 8 year old, Concord native, Nate Giffard loved making paper airplanes. In fact when he was matched at 8 with a Friends Youth Mentoring Program mentor, he taught his mentor to make paper airplanes and they flew them from the balcony of the St. Paul’s School library. It was his mentor’s first paper airplane experience, but in turn, his mentor put Nate on new pathways that would change Nate’s life. I asked Nate what he remembered about his time with his mentor at St. Paul’s School and he said, “Pretty much everything. Everything about that felt important.” Nate’s mentor, Nicky Buxton, worked with him to research and learn all about paper airplanes on the computer. His mentor played guitar and showed him cords in a year when Nate started playing the viola with the Concord School District. Nate would bring his viola up to campus and the two would play their instruments together in the dorm. From Nate, “I looked up to him and wanted to be just like him. He was so smart and nice. He was great!” Nate went on to say, “To be more like him, I thought about going to St. Paul’s when I was older.” It was his mentor who showed him the way. “Nicky told me what it was I needed to do and I set out to accomplish it.” Indeed Nate demonstrated he had the academic and music talent chops and earned his way in. When asked how he felt when accepted to this prestigious school, he offered, “I was so excited and proud. I had worked hard and achieved it.”
While at St. Paul’s School, Nate had the opportunity, through a highly selective process, to become a volunteer mentor in the Friends Youth Mentoring Program himself. In a full circle moment, he earned the chance to mentor a 9 year old boy. “It had been important to me and I wanted to give that experience to another.” Nate stated, “This program gives kids a friend in the sense that a mentor is there just for them.” From first-hand experience as both a mentee and now a mentor, Nate reflected, “Kids gain self-confidence. I wanted my mentee to be able to dream, express ideas, and not be discouraged.” With Nate’s help, this youngster has stayed plugged in to positive pursuits and he clearly does look up to Nate.
Nate is now on the eve of graduation from St. Paul’s School and to his credit, has impressively earned his way into Dartmouth College. When asked how he felt about his acceptance to Dartmouth, he said, “It was one of the best days of my life.” He will be on a pre-med track at Dartmouth supporting his aspirations to be a doctor in the psychiatry field. Nate has thought about wanting to be a doctor since he was 13 years old. There is one thing we at the Friends Program have learned about Nate, he needs only to be shown an opportunity as he continues to rise to new heights, mastering so much along the way.