Project Impact: Mentor Spotlight

Local author participates in Montgomery ISD Mentor Program, encouraging students to follow their dreams

When you look back over your life and see the impact that others have had on your development, are you motivated to give back and make time to mentor other young students that could use that same kind of encouragement and support? That’s the motivation behind this month’s highlighted mentor, Alda P. Dobbs.

Montgomery ISD offers Project Impact, a mentor program for community members to give back to our secondary students that can benefit from an extra role model in their life. Mentors commit to one day a week for a 30 minute lunch period, providing food, conversation and a positive experience in their student’s week.

Alda has been serving as a mentor since 2019, in which she not only brought lunch and the commitment of visiting, but she also used her advanced math skills as a former engineer to help her student with their math homework, ultimately spending time with them as a tutor. COVID brought a pause to the mentor program in MISD in the spring of 2020, but when the opportunity was opened again this year, Alda was one of the first to commit.

“It’s more than just an opportunity to give back,” Dobbs said. “It’s the feeling I have each time I leave, the adrenaline rush of just joy and positivity. And it’s that child, that interaction with that student, that does that for me. When I leave here, I’m usually whistling or singing, and I’m always smiling.”

Alda has two kids in MISD, both elementary students that attend Keenan ES. She says the commitment is just an hour a week when you include travel time and picking up a lunch for the student, but the rewards are life-changing.

“To anyone that would even consider this opportunity, I would say, “Go for it!’ and encourage them to jump right in.” Dobbs said. “There are so many benefits from getting to see life from the perspective of another generation, from a different child. You learn and you grow, and you get to help that child grow as well.”

Alda Dobbs enjoying lunch with her junior high student.
Her hope is to start with a junior high student and build that relationship throughout that student’s time in MISD.

As a second career, Alda has become a 2022-2023 Bluebonnet Award nominated author with her first published book, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna. She has a passion for storytelling and has recorded a piece of her family history in a historical-fiction children’s novel.

“It follows my great grandmother in 1913 and her experiences during the Mexican Revolution and how our family sought refuge in the United States.” Dobbs said. “It takes you on the journey, the trek, through the desert and the chaos of attempting to cross the border.”

Barefoot Dreams is book one of a two book series, with the sequel scheduled to come out next year. The journey will continue and follow her to a refugee camp, and then to San Antonio where 30,000 refugees ended up in 1913. These pieces of historical fiction share about the struggles of adapting to culture, learning a language, finding housing and being resilient.

Alda has been sharing her book with MISD students as a guest speaker at Montgomery JH and is scheduled to do the same at other campuses across the district this spring semester. More importantly, she shares her personal journey of how she followed her dreams of becoming an author, after not learning to speak English herself until she entered public schools in San Antonio as a child. She speaks of her research and the commitment required to follow the process of publishing a book and she also encourages the students to follow their dreams, proving that it’s never too late to put your passion into something you care about. In this regard, Alda is a mentor to so many students, and we are excited to honor her as a member of Project Impact.

If you’d like to learn more about Project Impact and becoming a mentor for students in Montgomery ISD, please contact Courtney Dyer, Director of Community Services for MISD at courtney.dyer@misd.org.

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