Last week, I was acknowledged by the Alum Rock Counseling Center for my personal commitment to mentoring at-risk students. As I prepared my thank you remarks, I was reminded how much I value youth mentoring nonprofits such as Alum Rock, Big Brother Big Sisters, and Child Advocates. Through mentor-mentee relationships, students are propelled to learn, to grow, and to discover their own genius.

It worked for me.

HCF #2

My parents immigrated to the United States in the early 1970s with little experience on living, working, or educating my sisters and me in this country. As a result, I leaned on mentors to guide me in areas my parents could not. Mentors who connected with my heart and with my mind made all the difference, because literacy and math achievement programs alone were not enough.

Like my neighbor, Paul, who not only challenged me to raise my Cs to As and Bs, his belief that I was capable of excelling was the push I needed to perform.

Like my teacher, Mr. Swienciki, who not only guided me through the college application and financial aid process, he helped subsidize the cost of me going to college.

Like my boss, Scott, who not only gave me my first job, he showed me what it is to be a leader at work and in the community.

I am who I am because of their love, help, and guidance. I am thankful for Paul, Mr. Swienciki, Scott and many others for coming into my life. I am especially thankful of nonprofits for facilitating the same experience for 1000s of others like me.

For them, but more so for the friends and family members that were not so lucky, I do what I do to give back of my time, my talents, and my treasure.

For over a decade, I have been serving as a mentor and I encourage you to do the same. Get involved, stay involved by connecting with the heart and with the mind because it can make all the difference.

Cisco has a long history of supporting mentorship. We are a founding partner in US2020, a nationwide initiative to encourage more mentorships in science, technology, engineering, and math (MATH). Cisco’s US2020 commitment is to have at least 20% of its workforce mentoring 20 hours per year by 2020.


Ricardo Benavidez

Senior Community Relations Manager