Three years ago, college buddies Sean Finerty and Isaac Strong decided to co-mentor while on a drive back from a Gonzaga recruitment fair that they were both volunteering at. The two Zag alums had been invited to the annual MMSF Spring Gala, and realized in the car that they had separately attended the event and been inspired by the cause.
It didn’t take long for the two friends to make a name for themselves within the organization.
Sean Finerty is now the SVP of Mentees, advocating and building the mentee community and spearheading mentee recruitment and applications. Issac Strong is now the Co-VP of Internal Operations, and previously the Co-VP of Events. Their storied resume on the executive team pales only in comparison to their mentorship commitment to their mentee, Zhi Yang.
“My primary role is to be Zhi’s mentor,” said Finerty. “I try to offer whatever knowledge and guidance I can to help out our rock star student.”
Strong is filled with pride every time he thinks about how Zhi will be the first in her family to go to college. The soon-to-be high school graduate is looking forward to her next chapter.
“I love coming to Minds Matter every Saturday and connecting with my mentors,” said Yang. “And I’m super excited for college. I feel like I’m carving a new path for my family, and setting an example for my younger siblings.”
Even with all the upcoming gala preparations being top of mind, Strong and Finerty are helping Yang finalize her scholarships. These two MMSF mentors joined the chapter early on and have been instrumental in the organization's expansion, but the org-wide growth doesn’t even come close to the transformation of their mentee.
“Zhi has always been a confident and strong leader with ambitious plans for herself, but it’s been fun to watch how those plans have evolved and refined,” said Finerty. “ She now has a good grasp of what type of school she wants to go to, and what she wants to do for a career.”
Strong has watched Yang mature into a young lady. Her ability to successfully balance her workload, extracurricular activities, family and overall health is evidence of this fact.
“Zhi has taught me that I’m going to be that annoying father who asks his daughter way too many questions about her dating life, and is way too protective of her,” said Finerty. “But working with Zhi over the last three years has been the most inspiring time of my life. I want to thank her for putting up with my nerdiness and all my prying questions about boys.”
The high school senior also had a few heartfelt words for her mentors:
Dear Sean and Isaac:
It’s finally that time of senior year that everyone keeps talking about! It’s the time after college applications are in and good grades now seem “optional.” But unfortunately for me, every time I even think about not doing my homework, a little Sean and Isaac pop into the back of my mind, encouraging me to not slack off!
Thank you for being here to guide me in the right direction, even when you guys aren’t physically with me. Your unwavering support and belief in me has successfully guided me through most of high school and now I’m on track to attend college. I’m so glad I met you guys, because without you, I would have no one else to turn to for help in school and college applications. So thank you for the help, the support, and the “ring boy advice.”
Zhi, your favorite mentee