Idealism that can change a world
"I talked to Mark about the homework he was doing after college, and found he was spending two hours a night, but felt he was not getting anywhere," says Wesley. "It turned out he was listening to music at the same time, and only actually studying for about half an hour. We agreed he should give the music a miss."
Practical study tips are only part of the help and support Wesley, a 43-year-old business and personal development coach, has been able to offer Mark since the two linked up at the start of the year. Chats over coffee at City College, Manchester, and regular phone calls, have covered career plans, family backgrounds, and attitudes to work and success.
Wesley, who came to Manchester from Jamaica at 12, makes an inspiring role model. He progressed from O-levels and A-levels at his secondary modern to a biochemistry degree, then an MA and PhD, followed later by a master's in business administration. But academic success, he insists, is not the key to his mentoring.
"My strength is that I know something about how the system works and what it really takes. I have made it clear to Mark that people don't fail because they are stupid. They fail because they haven't found the right formula."
Wesley's own parents, though they recognised his promise, felt unable to give him all the support he needed. "I don't blame them for that. I think all non-middle-class children, not just in the black community, need to learn these things in other ways."
For the mentor, one benefit is a strong sense of service. As well as mentoring Mark, Wesley leads discussion groups for students at the college. "It is about committing and really delivering things to these people. Even at the age of 43, I am a bit of an idealist, and believe this kind of thing can change the world."