Keeping it real. As straightforward as it may sound, it takes courage to be truly honest about one’s personal experiences and vulnerabilities. Taking 17 mentees under his wing from 2017 to 2019, authenticity is Jerald Seow’s guiding philosophy for building trusting connections with those he has crossed paths with at Prince George’s Park House (PH) over the last two academic years.
“To me, being genuine means opening up about my life to the people around me, the good, the bad, and the ugly even. To share and learn together from my mistakes, my shortcomings, and my successes so that we all grow from it. It could even be as simple as keeping my door open whenever I’m back in my room,” Jerald says.
As an experienced peer mentor, Jerald is family away from home to his mentees. Like a big brother who has gone through the insecurities of fitting in, he takes care to ensure that his mentees feel safe, included and respected at school, the way they would be appreciated and cherished as who they are at home. Recognising the unique quality of the peer mentorship programme where mentors from diverse backgrounds are equipped to support their mentees in ways they know best, he fondly recalls his days as a mentee.
“Someone once said that the only way we learn how to mentor is to be mentored. I have been privileged to grow up with many mentors who guided me across different aspects of my life,” Jerald recounts. “Before I started school, a senior gave me essential advice on how to best spend my time in university. I am very thankful for his continual words of support and encouragement throughout this significant period.”
Of all his mentees, first year resident Lim Kai Le is the only one who also majors in Business Analytics. Being in the same course as his mentor allayed Kai Le’s fears and concerns as he had zero coding knowledge upon admission into the computing faculty. “I am grateful that Jerald was there to assist whenever I had problems academically or otherwise. It’s his small gestures of care and concern for someone unrelated to him like myself that makes him genuine. He spends time engaging the cluster which allowed us to foster better friendships, and learn how to be accommodating towards each other in communal living.”
“We share common interests such as gaming and he invited me to join work-out sessions with him and the other mentors which was a great way for us to bond,” Kai Le shares.
Words of affirmation Jerald received when he first organised events as peer mentor also spurred him on to continue doing more and became a solid reminder of the values PH stand for. Embracing diversity and inclusivity, the mentorship programme brings together people from not just different backgrounds but of personalities and characters. These interactions nurture mutual understanding, something Jerald has been working on to help his mentees manage opinions and expectations.
On top of having meals together, Jerald noticed his mentees have also started to hang out at common areas to study or simply to enjoy each other’s company. Jerald says of his brood, “They have taken a liking to the small community we have grown to become at Block 25. Watching them grow to love PH as their own home and to look out for one another was a pleasant sight for me.”