Angela + Jatnna’s Story
By Rachel Lopez
Jatnna Abreu, Senior Talent Development Specialist at Amway, just finished her first year of mentoring at Southwest Community Campus.
“It’s worth it. You should absolutely do it. It’s so impactful for underrepresented students to see someone like us.”
Jatnna is a strong advocate for inclusion initiatives. For the past 7 years she has been an integral part in helping grow Amway’s efforts in diversity and inclusion and ensuring people of color are supported by leaders and offered equitable opportunities. For the past two years she has organized Amway’s Professionals of Color Conference and is the Vice President of the Multicultural Inclusion Network.
Jatnna understands first-hand the importance of strong mentors. As young teens, Jatnna and her younger sister, Loanna, moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic to live with their aunt. “My parents are both in the military and they wanted a better life for us. The quality of education and life is not the same as here. Education and getting degrees was very important to my parents.”
Although they had visited for a few weeks at a time in the past, moving to Grand Rapids was very different than visiting. “Being 14 and not having your parents, going to a high school that wasn’t diverse, adapting to a new language and culture, and coming from a tropical island to MICHIGAN weather. It was very rough,” remembers Jatnna.
Driven and passionate, Jatnna surrounds herself with strong female leaders but also pushes herself to be one. “I have informal mentors, like Stacy Stout and my boss at Amway, as well as a formal mentor at Amway, and of course my mom. I knew I wanted to be that for someone else.”
Jatnna heard about becoming a mentor through a fellow sorority sister, Madeline Aguillon (current mentor and board member). Last fall she was matched with second grader, Angela, at Southwest Community Campus. “She’s sassy, very smart, and shy depending on who she’s with,” smiles Jatnna.
A quiet and energetic student, Jatnna says, “Angela challenges me in a good way. That’s what I like about her. She asks questions that I’ve never thought about.”
She recalls the first few weeks, “At first she didn’t want to talk until she got to know me. Now she talks about her family, her siblings, her mom who works and supports the household. She’s very brave and always looking to learn.”
As a mom of a young toddler, Jatnna is glad that she doesn’t have to take time after work to mentor, “my boss is very supportive and encourages me to do things outside of Amway. She’s fine with me taking an hour to mentor each week.”
Jatnna explains that parenting and mentoring is very different. “I’m his mom. I’m just trying to keep him alive, educate him and mold him into a good human being. Mentoring Angela is different. It’s easier. Maybe because she is older. I’m helping to guide her through life. I give her advice and I help her with homework then we have some fun.”
Affinity is need of 100 more mentors this fall, if you’re interested in becoming a mentor apply here >