Chris Stoltenberg is currently an intern at the University Y, facilitating critical reflections and trainings for other students. He started with the UY as a Buddy, and has served in virtually every leadership position.
I first joined the Y-Mentors program, formally known as Y-Buddies, my freshman year of college. The Y-Mentors program provides youth in the Minneapolis area with a positive role model. I was eager to get involved, meet new people and make a difference. Little did I know that a simple flyer, handed to me while walking to class, would lead to a life-long relationship.
For me, it hasn’t been your typical mentor – mentee relationship. It began as your ordinary mentoring relationship, as all do, I would believe; but quickly developed into a brotherly bond that will span a lifetime.
I met my little brother, James, the winter of 2007, right before Christmas. He was an overly energetic, little 3rd grader. I remember that winter as if it were yesterday. We spent the weekends sledding, building snow forts and creating ridiculous ginger bread houses that never seemed to get finished before all the candy had already been eaten! I have been lucky enough to have spent the last four and half years getting to know him as well as his family. He has been a true inspiration for me and I am continually learning and growing from our time together.
I have realized that as I grow older, I begin to assume the role of an adult, as is the case: the cease of asking curious questions, the endless list making, the stressful planning for the not so distant future and the never-ending tire that never seems to disappear.
Throughout the past four years, James has brought a sense of cheer, hope, promise, life, genuine curiosity and true amazement into my life. When the days run long and there never seems to be enough hours to work with, when the lists seem never ending and the weekend beyond sight, James has inspired me to be better.
Whether it has been the step practices, the middle school basketball games, the school award ceremonies, the hours spent playing video games, the Sunday church services, the all you can eat buffets or the afternoons shooting buckets; I truly could not imagine my life without his ongoing presence.
I am sincerely grateful to the University Y for their ongoing support, guidance and the opportunity to develop as a cause-driven leader in my community.