Category Archives: Category: Mentor News

February is the month that Hallmark compels us to spend $5.99 one or more times to confirm our affection and appreciation to the loved ones in our lives. Now we all do that, but which ones of us actually show that affection and appreciation? That’s where the mentor-student team of Susan Terry and Ali C. shows up in living color.

A relationship that started mid-COVID behind masks and Facetime has blossomed into one of the closest Shepherds relationships in the program. Ali, a Kolbe Cathedral Junior, captain of the Girls soccer team and an academic all-star, praises Susan, “The two words to describe my mentor are caring and selfless. She cares about what I say and how I feel and never forgets what I tell her. She is a giving person who cares about others deeply.”

Susan exudes the same joy being in Ali’s life: “The two years I have known her have flown by!  In that time, she has gotten her license and taken on a part time job.  These days I often will meet her for lunch at school for a quick check in.  Ali is a good student and has a really good head on her shoulders.  We are definitely really good buddies, but I hope that I can help her to see that she is capable of so much.  She has many gifts. I look forward to the next part of the journey which includes the college process!”

On behalf of Shepherds’ students and the staff and Board of Shepherds, we recognize and celebrate our Shepherds Mentors during the month of January…and every other day of the year! You have generously volunteered your time to help change a life.

See and “hear” from your student, in their own words of how you have impacted their lives…


And, we celebrated…with ‘Cocktails & Conversation’

What a great turnout we had for our wonderful evening at The Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, CT on Thursday, January 26th at 6pm. We had a gathering of our Board of Directors, Shepherds Staff, Kolbe Cathedral and Notre Dame Staff, a few student guest appearances and of course…our Mentors!

In a cozy room bookended by two, large, stone fireplaces, the cocktails and conversation flowed as new Mentors chatted with Board Members, current Mentors, former Mentors and took a few moments to see their student on the ‘big screen’ giving a personalized message about them! And we took plenty of pictures to remember the event!

See below….




Shepherds spoke recently with Ruby Melton recently and she reflected upon her experience as a Shepherds Mentor to Ernie Gabriel Santiago. Ruby is also a former member of the Shepherds Board of Directors.

I first met Ernie when he was a freshman at Notre Dame High School. He was part of the Shepherds program and I had agreed to be his mentor and sponsor during his four years of high school. At our first meeting he told me his dream was to become a pediatric nurse. And he is well on his way! He is entering his final year in Quinnipiac’s nursing program. Mentoring Ernie was the best thing I ever did. And following and supporting him on his journey to achieve his dream has brought me such joy!

And I can say without hyperbole that Shepherds was a life changer for me and Ernie, as it has been and continues to be for the young people —and their mentors and sponsors—that come through the program. I hope Shepherds continues to do this good work for many years to come.

When asked about what made him interested in Shepherds, Jim said, “As my career was winding down as I approached retirement, I was on the lookout to engage in purpose-driven activities to give back to the community.” Jim decided to reach out to Shepherds after seeing a flyer in the Fairfield Prep newsletter, where his son attends high school . “After conversations with Dan McAuliffe and Amy Chickles, I was even more impressed with the small, local nature of the Shepherds program and it fit my needs for an organization where I could add value and make a difference.”

Jim enjoys his mentor role very much with sophomore Elijah at Kolbe, “Being a successful mentor takes a great investment in time, effort, and emotion to make a difference.  I love that the mentor experience can have a positive impact on one student at a time.” As a Shepherds Board Member, Jim is very aware of the need to raise money to support the Shepherds program. Jim believes he has made an excellent investment of his both his time and donations supporting Shepherds Students.

Jim may mentor a Kolbe Cathedral Student, but his responsibility on the Shepherds Board is to help further develop Shepherds in the New Haven area. “While enhancing our relationship with our academic partner, Notre Dame West Haven, I’m also looking to increase the involvement of the New Haven area in terms of mentoring and financial support.”

Jim recognizes that one person cannot create major change alone. Shepherds along with our academic partner schools, mentors, donors, and sponsors can make a tremendous impact on the lives of Shepherds Students.

Mentor Training

Mentoring young people relies upon the power of interpersonal connections with their mentors. Maintaining those connections can be challenging during COVID and creating new ones can prove to be even trickier. Shepherds has met these challenges head-on for our new mentors for the students of the Shepherds Class of 2024.

Shepherds has a robust training program for mentors, students and their families which normally takes place in person. COVID has changed our training program to a hybrid of virtual and in-person training which has required some adjustments. We are happy to report that our new mentors and freshman students have begun making solid personal connections.

Zoom meetings kicked off mentor training with a focus on mentoring expectations and mentoring in safe virtual and in-person environments. Our staff was impressed with how engaged our mentors were during these sessions. Up next were parent and student training sessions followed up with in-person meetings for most and a virtual meet up for one mentor, student and parent.

When mentors, students and parents met for the first time, it became clear that it is easy to be social and get to know another and still stay six feet apart. Shepherds Staff witnessed the beginning of new relationships and being physically distant, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer didn’t change a thing.

Mentor a student

It has been six years since Mark Healey and Celia Pinzi became mentors to NDWH ’18 student Reuben Clark. Shepherds spoke to Mark and Reuben recently to ask about how being in the Shepherds’ program impacted them.

It has been an absolute joy to watch Reuben change from a shy young freshman, to the accomplished college student, college football player and entrepreneur he is today,” stated Mark. “I got a lot more out of being Reuben’s mentor than I realized. Reuben and I still talk and get together. Recently, I reached out to him during the protests about social, racial and economic inequalities. I wanted him to know that Celia and I support him.

Reuben attends Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is currently taking three summer classes and has started up one e-commerce business selling jewelry, created a business that repairs cell phone screens and is in the process of rebranding a clothing line he created. “Mr. Mark really helped me with time management and taught me how to network,” claimed Reuben. “They are like family to me. I love them to death.”

When asked what they would tell a person who is considering becoming a mentor, both had similar answers. “If you want to help shape the life of a young man, become a pillar of support and create genuine change in his life, become a Shepherds mentor to a NDWH student,” said Reuben. Mark agreed, “It is so satisfying that I played a part in Reuben’s growth. It is amazing that a couple hours a month can have such an enormous impact on a young person.”

Shepherds needs five mentors for the upcoming freshman NDWH class. Join our team of caring mentors to make a positive impact on a Notre Dame man this Fall. To find out more, contact Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 or

Fred, mentor

Fred McMullen enjoyed the four years he mentored Alejandro, “The most gratifying part of my Shepherds experience was seeing the pride and confidence my student had when he started his college experience. We stay in touch and it has also been great to see him adapt to and thrive in a completely different environment. This gives me a lot of confidence that he is going to go on and make a difference wherever he charts his course.”

Shepherds students high school graduation rate for the last twenty years is 95%+, compared to their inner-city peers’ rate of 55-65%. Last year, 100% of our students went on to institutions of higher learning.

Fred found it rewarding to help impact a student’s life. You can experience that too! Shepherds is recruiting mentors for freshman beginning this fall. To find out more, go to You can also contact Executive Director Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 or


Jonathan is the embodiment of the Shepherds’ belief that education is the gift that keeps on giving – long after they graduate our program. He is a 2005 alumnus of Notre Dame West Haven High School and the Shepherds program. He has also given back to our program by becoming a mentor himself.

Jonathan continues to mentor in Charlotte, NC where he now lives via National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). NABA’s motto is ‘Lift as We Climb.’ “Being mentored opened up opportunities I did not know about or our family didn’t have the means to provide. I am continuing that tradition by mentoring young black accounting students,” claimed Jonathan.

Mentoring changes lives. You can too! Become a Shepherds mentor for a student in the freshman class beginning this fall. Contact Dan McAuliffe at or call 203-367-4273.