Tag Archives: Tag: ndwh

Dr. Andre Sofair is a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Yale Medical School and holds a secondary appointment in the School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases. In addition to this impressive resume, Dr. Sofair has spent the past four years as a Shepherds Mentor to graduating NDWH student, Jamar, who will be attending Trinity College this fall. Dr. Sofair found the experience so rewarding that he has signed up to mentor an incoming Notre Dame freshman/Shepherds Student this fall.

When asked what made the mentoring experience so enjoyable that he volunteered to mentor again, Dr. Sofair said, “Very few things are as valuable as a good education. It is what gives you wings to soar and explore the world.  It gives you the skills to contribute to your community and freedom to choose how to do so.  I can think of no better way to share my time then to mentor a young man during his high school years.”

Thank you to Dr. Sofair and all our Shepherds Mentors for guiding our 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.

giving back

This is NDWH ’11 Mike DeChello’s second time as a mentor. “A few years ago, my father’s friend, Mark Milano, reached out to me and told me about Shepherds and that mentors were needed,” said Mike.

That conversation with his father’s friend was an ah-ha moment for Mike, “After college, I realized that there was still an opportunity to help the community I love – Notre Dame.”

Jalanni was the first student he mentored. An outstanding Notre Dame basketball player, he attends Canisius College and plays on their basketball team. “I remain in touch with Jalanni. He is a good kid and really took advantage of the opportunities he was given.”

Now Mike mentors Alan L. (ND ’22). “I’m a strong advocate for his success. I’m encouraging him to pursue club activities and improve his grades while at ND. Alan is a great soccer player and I enjoy watching him play. We really also enjoy just hanging out.”

When Mike was told he was one of the youngest mentors Shepherds has had at Notre Dame, he was surprised. “Being a Shepherds mentor to an ND student is an enjoyable experience. It is the natural extension of what I learned at ND and a great way to make a direct impact on fellow ND brother.”

Executive Director of Shepherds, Dan McAuliffe agrees, “We need more men like Mike to mentor our Shepherds’ students at Notre Dame. We need five  mentors and sponsors for incoming Notre Dame freshmen that are a part of the Shepherds program.”

If you’re unable to participate as a mentor this year, the need is equally great financially to support the Shepherds program. To find out more about the role of mentoring a Shepherds student or how to support the program financially, email info@shepherdsmentors.org, or call Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 or click the link below to find out more.

Join Mike DeChello in helping achieve Shepherds’ mission of Changing Lives…One Student at a Time., Notre Dame West Haven.

Ways You Can Help Shepherds Students

Shepherds class of 2020

At this time of year, Shepherds would be usually be gathering together to celebrate our seniors’ accomplishments and high school graduations. With the health crisis, we are unable to host in-person celebrations. However, that does not diminish our pride in our graduates.

Our students’ hard work and determination, coupled with support from their family, Shepherds mentor and Shepherds program, have led to this moment in time where we now commemorate their achievements.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! Go forth and do great things!

Longtime student mentor

Greg has been mentoring students from Notre Dame West Haven in the Shepherds program for over a decade. “It is very satisfying to provide guidance to a young person and see him grow and develop into a young man.” A NDWH graduate himself, he values the education of the hearts and minds the high school provides. When paired with a caring Shepherds mentor, the possibilities are endless for the students.

Mentoring a high school student can change a life. You can too! Shepherds is recruiting mentors for the class of 2024 beginning this fall. By becoming a mentor, you are doing your part to ensure that today’s students have the tools and support they need to succeed. Join us today by contacting Executive Director Dan McAuliffe at info@shepherdsmentors.org or call 203-367-4273.


Shepherds enjoyed hearing from a student alumnus at Shepherds Notre Dame Mentor Appreciation Night. Notre Dame West Haven ’14 alum, Jeenn Barreiro embraced the lessons he learned during his time as a Shepherds student at NDWHS.

After high school, he continued his education at College of the Holy Cross, graduating in 2018. Jeenn currently works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a researcher and plans on attending graduate school in the fall.

While his academic and work successes make Shepherds proud, his impact on his community in Boston brings the lessons learned at Shepherds and NDWH full-circle. At our Mentor Appreciation Night, he spoke about how he is now a mentor himself. Jeenn mentoring and coaching a soccer team of refugees, undocumented and socio-economically challenged youths.

The beginning of school is an exciting time for both mentors and Shepherds students. Last week at Notre Dame West Haven and Kolbe Cathedral High School, Shepherds freshman and their mentors met each other for the first time and had a celebratory meal with upper year students and their mentors. “It was like a family reunion,” claimed Executive Director Dan McAuliffe, “welcoming back our student and mentors and inviting new members into our Shepherds community.”

To see more photos, go to Shepherds’ Instagram.

Shepherds empowers inner-city Connecticut  youth to build a foundation for success by providing a college-prepartory education at  a non-public high school, academic and life skills, along with the positive role model and support of a Shepherds mentor. The whole student model, where Shepherds provides not only opportunity but guidance, is critical to the success of the student and has a ripple effect on the student’s family and community.

But that positive impact cannot be done without community volunteers willing to step up to make a difference in a student’s life. Spending a few hours a month mentoring an at-risk youth can help improve their schoolwork, their behavior and their self-esteem. Studies have shown that mentoring high school students improves attendance, class participation, academic success and higher college acceptance rates. Last year, all Shepherds graduates were accepted and are currently attending college.

“We are looking for caring adult mentors of all ages to make a real difference for our Shepherds’ Notre Dame High School West Haven students,” said Dan McAuliffe, Executive Director of Shepherds. “If you have a few hours a month and the desire to make a difference, we want to talk with you about our program.”

Being a mentor not only benefits the student. Mentoring is a satisfying endeavor for the mentor as well. The satisfaction of helping a young person achieve their goals is personally impactful. Additionally, mentoring is a skill that is valued by employers as it demonstrates a willingness and ability to work and teach others. Developing that skill with a high school student is a great way to flex those mentoring muscles. Mentoring is a relationship where both sides can learn and grow, despite the focus being on the student’s progress.

“We have a few Notre Dame West Haven young men in need of a mentor,” says McAuliffe, “and all of these great kids deserve and would benefit from a mentor.”

Anyone wanting to find out more about Shepherds should contact the office at 203-367-4273 or email info@shepherdsmentors.org.