Mentor ups students’ chances

By Josh Albrecht

Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series on NIU students and staff who volunteer time to organizations.

Laisha Fox began peer mentoring with autistic children in high school. Now she continues to mentor CHANCE students at NIU.

The sophomore textile apparel merchandising and business major, who also is a CHANCE student, said the hardest part about being a mentor is getting attached to the people you help, especially children.

But Fox believes she has developed good relationships with the students she mentors.

“They’re like my brothers and sisters,” she said.

CHANCE allows students who don’t meet the traditional NIU admittance requirements to attend college because of obstacles they have had to overcome, whether academic or not. Fox helps freshmen CHANCE students become acquainted with NIU by taking them to football games and parties, as well as helping them with their class schedules.

She also gives students plenty of advice on how to handle their studies, stressing the variety of options the CHANCE office gives students to help them succeed.

And there’s a bit of advice Fox gives to all of her mentees when it comes to finding ways to get ahead.

“If you don’t ask, you will never know,” she said.

Fox said volunteering is a great way to meet people and feel good about yourself.

“People value volunteers, and the job that you’re not paid for may be the best job that you ever have,” she said.

CHANCE counselor Lisa King has helped Fox during the past two years, describing her job as a “resource person” in helping Fox achieve academically.

“She’s an outgoing, hardworking, good-natured person who likes school, but knows how to have fun,” King said. “She came with a lot of fire, and she still has that fire.”

King notes that she has seen Fox grow into a woman who understands her role at NIU and as someone with improved decision-making skills.

Balance is very important for Fox, a member of On Point Entertainment and Present Perfect Modeling, as well as student secretary at the University Programming and Activities office. Her duties make for an active schedule.

“Right now, I think I am full, but things could change in the future,” Fox said.