Caring for the connection

In the current crisis, the mentoring relationship must be virtual

virtually mentoring high school student during COVID-19

Amanda Becotte, an adviser in the Raytheon Missiles & Defense Stand and Deliver program, is virtually mentoring Nanyeli Perez, a senior at Lawrence High School in Massachusetts. Photo was taken before social distancing measures. (Photo: Amanda Becotte)

Amanda Becotte understands that 17-year-old Nanyeli Perez needs support now more than ever. 

Becotte is an adviser in Stand and Deliver, a Raytheon Missiles & Defense mentoring initiative conducted in partnership with Family Services of the Merrimack Valley. She's helping Perez navigate life in and outside the classroom in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“She’s always willing to help me no matter the time or the day,” said Perez, a Lawrence High School senior and a mentee in the program.

Becotte, who has mentored Perez for two years, stays connected with her through frequent calls, texts, emails and video chats. She also records and sends personal messages to remind Perez she’s not alone in the crisis.

“If it’s tough on us, it must be even harder on them,” said Becotte, a software engineer at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, one of four businesses that form Raytheon Technologies. “It’s so important we be there for them … and ease their minds a little. It’s the least we can do.”

Living with challenges

Perez must take extra precautions to stay healthy, since those with respiratory issues are more susceptible to COVID-19, especially in Massachusetts, one of the hardest-hit states.

She was a busy teenager before the virus. Aside from academics – which she’s excelled – Perez also helps care for her 7-year-old sister and 79-year-old grandmother, and works an after-school job.

“Even though I’m supposed to be home, I still have to work,” she said.

With Becotte’s urging, Perez entered the early college program in her junior year.

“She’ll reach out to me whenever she needs help on her high school or college classes — sometimes it’s been on a Friday night or a Sunday morning,” Becotte said.

Typically, the pair will work together virtually on homework, allowing Becotte to give Perez guidance on the next step. Sometimes she responds with a video explaining how to solve a problem.

The bond between the mentor and mentee goes beyond the classroom.

“I didn’t realize I had this effect on her until I learned that she’d named me, in a college application, as someone who had made a great impact on her life,” Becotte said.

Planning for the future

Once Perez completes her associate's degree in chemistry, she plans to transfer to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell to earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, and then pursue a master’s degree.

She hopes to intern and eventually work for Raytheon Technologies, which is helping her succeed thanks to the Stand and Deliver program and mentors like Becotte.

“I feel proud that Nanyeli is my mentee; she‘s incredible,” Becotte said. “There’s really nothing heroic on my end.”

Raytheon Missiles & Defense Business is part of Raytheon Technologies, which is using its manufacturing capacity, and engineering, logistics and finance expertise to carry out initiatives that serve our communities, deliver on our commitments to our customers and protect our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about our efforts.

Published On: 04/20/2020