BW Alumni Stay Connected, While Helping New Generation of Students

March 10, 2012

Building a powerful network that benefits the next generation of college students as well as facilitating achievement among young professionals is at the core of Minds Matter, a successful mentoring program started by a group of Baldwin Wallace alumni.

In its fifth year, Minds Matter is comprised of young professionals who volunteer their time to provide mentoring and academic training to underprivileged high school youth. Over the course of their three years with the students, the volunteers provide a foundation that helps them garner admission to college.

Michael Lagoni ‘06 heard about Minds Matter while living in Boston and was inspired to start a chapter in Cleveland. He enlisted the support of two fellow alumnae and guidance of Associate Professor Phil Bessler at BW to bring his idea to fruition. A successful businessman, Lagoni will graduate with an MBA from Harvard Business School this summer and will go to work for Amazon.

Joining him in the organization’s formative years were Kristen San Marco ’06 and Meghan Pethtel ’07. San Marco is vice president of Carleton McKenna & Co. and will attend Harvard Business School in fall of 2012 and Pethtel is a marketing product manager for Amazon.

Building Future Leaders of Cleveland

Students who apply and are accepted spend five hours every Saturday in downtown conference rooms supplied by the Sherwin-Williams Co.

There they get an extra push to excel through intensive lessons in math, writing and critical thinking. “We help them improve their grades, help them improve their SAT scores and give them the experience of college through some great summer programs,” said Lagoni.

“But the program is much more than simply getting high schoolers into college. It’s about helping the future leaders of this city,” said Lagoni.

Two of the students from the Minds Matter class of 2011 began their freshman year at BW in August 2011.

BW Connection Fosters Continued Career Growth

Bessler was a key connection for the group of alumni and became a founding board member of the Cleveland chapter. He said there is a strong BW connection within the chapter through the founders, professors who serve as board members, and the alumni network from which the organization recruits volunteers.

Through starting and successfully sustaining an organization, the founders have gained valuable skills for the current market. “They gained skills in leadership, critical thinking and mentoring that every employer wants,” said Bessler. This is evident in the support and contributions made by the employers of the founders and the volunteers who helped make this program a successful reality.