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Through the SGA, Jonathan is undertaking a project to develop a mentorship pipeline for MassBay students to visit local high schools. “I want students to understand the resources available to them and let them know MassBay is there for them. I’m not sure how it’s going to go yet, but I know it’s going to be big.”
Hometown: Brookline via Democratic Republic of Congo
Interest: Liberal Arts: Sociology/Psychology/Anthropology
Arriving in America with his family from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the age of 11, Jonathan Mande spoke no English and had difficulties getting along. “I really had a hard time diving in. I couldn’t find a way to express myself, and I was getting in a lot of fights,” he says. Today, he is a driven, compassionate, artistic young man who is eager to make a difference and help others “love themselves for who they are.”
As an adolescent in Brookline, Jonathan struggled to develop a sense of belonging. In 6th grade, he began to express himself through arts, theater, music, and the drums especially. Still, as he moved to Brookline High School, he admits, “I was not the ideal of a perfect student.” He got into trouble and had to repeat a year.
“I knew it wouldn’t stop me,” he says. He wound up enrolling in a dual enrollment program at Brookline High School, earning college credits at Bunker Hill Community College for academic work at Brookline High. He also began training for the Providence Rhode Island Marathon with Dreamfar High School Marathon. His mantra while he trained was “We finish what we start.” Despite enduring injuries, Jonathan finished the Marathon in five hours.
After graduating from Brookline High School in 2011, he spent a semester at Bunker Hill, earning a spot on the Dean’s List as a General Studies major. He earned a merit scholarship to Marlboro College in Vermont – “The first time I earned recognition for my academics,” he says.
Despite the opportunity, he was nevertheless reluctant to take on loans to go to school. Instead, he chose to transfer his college credits to MassBay in the spring of 2012. “I chose MassBay because my sister was coming here, and I had heard about different events on campus that looked interesting,” says Jonathan. “I thought it would be a school that was academically challenging, and I really wanted to work toward something bigger than myself.”
Today Jonathan is thriving. “When I got here, people were open and willing to help. I found it very easy to just be me. I like making contacts with other people, and that’s why I got involved.”
Jonathan began tutoring students at the Wellesley Housing Authority as soon as he arrived on campus, an activity he continues today. “Mostly middle school students,” he says, “ages nine – 13.” He is also the Vice President of Student Services for the MassBay Student Government Association (SGA).
Through the SGA, Jonathan is undertaking a project to develop a mentorship pipeline for MassBay students to visit local high schools. “I want students to understand the resources available to them and let them know MassBay is there for them,” he says. “I’m not sure how it’s going to go yet, but I know it’s going to be big.”
“Sometimes people don’t see the benefits of MassBay,” he continues. “No matter what their financial, academic, or social differences, everyone is here to better themselves. To me, it’s absurd to put yourself down about this. I want to try to get people to have pride and ownership in helping the MassBay community flourish.”
Jonathan is due to graduate in May 2014, and he is looking at Hampshire College, Framingham State, and UMass-Amherst. He narrowed his choices to these three schools because he intends to create his own major.
“I want to combine psychology, education and music,” he says. “Taking the disciplines of music, and putting it into education through psychology. I want to allow students space for self-expression and to learn about who they are. These days students feel they’re not good enough – they’re trying to fit in, worried that they’re not wearing the right clothing or that they are not “cool enough.” I want to break through that and create the authenticity of self-expression through music.”
Jonathan Mande transferred to MassBay from a Massachusetts community college in 2012. A Liberal Arts: Sociology/Psychology/Anthropology major, he has emerged as a student leader on campus. He intends to transfer to a four-year institution and design his own major combining his passion for music, psychology and education.