How a Mentor Changed My Life

January is National Mentoring Month. The power of mentorships is undeniable — I know because a mentor changed my life when I was a teenager.

My freshman year of high school, I was drifting in the wrong direction. I ended up failing four courses — Civics (think about that!), World Geography, English and Spanish. And let me tell you — when you fail English and Spanish, they don’t call you bilingual.

That’s where I found my unhappy self. I was working at a movie theater in North Charleston at the time (I was 15), and would walk over to the Chick Fil-a to get fries on my break. Just fries — I couldn’t afford the sandwich. One day, the owner of the Chick Fil-a, a man named John Moniz, took an interest in me and brought me a sandwich. For no reason at all, he decided he wanted to help and became my mentor.

John began teaching me business and conservative principles — principles that shaped my outlook on life. Through John’s help, and the love of my mom, I got back on track, graduated from high school and got my college degree. Using the principles he taught me, I eventually opened my own small business.

John died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 19 — but he taught me so much in those four years. It is because of him I set my life goal — to positively affect the lives of one billion people with a message of hope and opportunity: hope being faith in Jesus Christ, and opportunity being financial literacy and independence.

I can honestly say I’m not certain where my life would have led without John, and that he helped make me the man I am today. I am so grateful for his mentorship — as it helped take a kid whose grandfather grew up picking cotton to the U.S. Senate. From cotton to Congress.

I hope you all will join me in celebrating National Mentoring Month, and know that even the slightest gesture, the smallest amount of time can make a difference in someone’s life.

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