Virtual Mentoring Program Aims to Help Last-Dollar Scholarship Recipients During Pandemic



Future Ready Iowa
by: Christina Salonikas

DES MOINES, Iowa – Future Ready Iowa introduced a new virtual mentoring program for Last-Dollar Scholarship recipients.

The Last-Dollar Scholarship is a state-funded program that supports students attending primarily community colleges in the state and are pursuing a high-demand and technical career.

Indian Hills Community College student Heather Whittlesey said she was pleasantly surprised a scholarship offered a virtual mentoring program.

“I’ve never had a scholarship that’s been this involved. Usually it’s like ‘hey, congratulations, goodbye.’ Not, ‘hey, congratulations, here’s a program that we’re going to offer you to help you,’” Whittlesey said.

The program is part of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa initiative that aims to have at least 70% of the workforce in the state with training or higher education by 2025.

Whittlesey said she filled out a questionnaire before being paired with her mentor.

“He was matched with me based on my art interests and then also web development. So not only can I have a conversation with him about the technical aspect of what the job entails, but I can also have a conversation with him about art,” Whittlesey said.

At least 30 mentors and mentees are a part of the program.

Visionary Services Vice President Garritt Grandberg said he has mentored people in the past and liked this program for its open-ended environment.

“The rewards are massive coming back. I’ve always said if I can just affect one person’s life and they can look back and say ‘yeah, that one crazy guy, he was really cool. He really helped me out.’ Even just that one person makes it all worthwhile,” Grandberg said.

Students and professionals meet multiple times a month to discuss topics like resume building, work-life balance, life advice and more.

“The ability to kind of help guide somebody through whatever it is, just give them a way to get that knowledge that they try to figure out on their own,” Grandberg said.

The virtual mentoring program was created amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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