OP Scholar Petra, who graduated high school last month, has been a part of Operation Progress since the 6th grade. Before she goes off to college, OP staff member Lily Reiner interviewed her about her experience with OP’s LAPD Mentorship program. Here is the transcribed interview:
Lily, OP Staff: In what grade did you start with OP, and who do you consider to be your mentors?
Petra, OP Scholar: I started OP in the 6th grade when I was 11 years old. I consider Officer John Coughlin and Officer Eric Ortiz as my LAPD mentors.
Lily: Have those two been your mentors since the beginning, from 6th grade onwards?
Petra: Yes, in the beginning, it was Officer Ortiz then changed to Officer Coughlin. But we all built such an amazing bond that they both took me under their wings, so I ended up having both assigned as my mentors.
Lily: They make a good mentor team. How have your relationships with your mentors added value to your life? Why are your relationships with your mentors important to you?
Petra: My relationship with my mentors has gone far beyond what I thought it was going to be. They’ve taught me so many life lessons and opened up so many doors for me with opportunities that I never thought would be possible. They both have been my gateway to safety and freedom, with the trips to the barn or to the Grove. Officer Coughlin and Officer Ortiz are considered my family more than mentors. I couldn’t imagine my life without those two!
Lily: So nice! Do you have any favorite memories with them that you can share?
Petra: Yes, when a few OP girls and few LAPD officers, including Ortiz & Coughlin went to Knotts Scary Farm! I love spooky things and high rollercoasters, but I don’t mess with clowns! And Coughlin knew that, so when we walked by the whole section of clowns, I remember Coughlin just making sure I was okay and he let me hold on to him while I closed my eyes! We both still laugh at it to this day, haha.
Now, Ortiz, I remember we just got done with a major hike. I mean big hills and holes on the ground! I was drained and Ortiz knew I hated hikes but he applauded me for finishing it. So he rewarded me with In-N-Out but we made a dare that every time we came to this restaurant we had to get another layer of patty! So we started off with the double-double, then the 3×3, & then the 4×4. We still need to do the 5×5 so I’m just waiting on it!
Lily: Haha! so good. Hopefully you can get that in before you go off to college! Hmm, what else. This isn’t about mentorship, but as you go off to college soon, do you have any words of advice for younger OP Scholars?
Petra: Yes. Do not wait to the last minute! Your senior year will go by fast and before you know it, you’ll need your recommendations and need to start applying to schools. Remember to keep in mind, who you want a recommendation from so they have plenty of time to complete it. Also, keep your options open for colleges! If you have a dream school in mind, make it your number one priority but make sure you have really great backups just in case. The applications and all of it is not HARD, but it is time-consuming, so manage your time well so you are not stressed! Most of all, I wish you guys the best and hope you get into your dream college!
Lily: Love it, thank you for answering my questions!
Petra will start her freshman year of college soon at Stone Hill College in Massachusetts.
July 9, 2020