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How One SoulScholarship Mentor and Mentee Forged A Lifelong Friendship

t’s the final day of January — National Mentoring Month — so we’re sharing an awesome story of friendship: SoulScholarship mentor (and SOUL HQ employee!) Ashley Acosta and her mentee Abby open up about why they connected "at first sight," what they’ve learned throughout the program and more…

How did you get involved in the SoulScholarship program?
Ashley Acosta: Ashley Mashihi, who spearheads our SoulScholarship program, is a close friend of mine. I'm always so inspired by how much of an impact the program - and the mentors - have on the kids that participate. So I finally applied! I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be even a small piece of that.

Abby: My teacher Ms. Haylen asked if I was interested in the program and my best friend told me that I should join.

What were you hoping to learn from the SoulScholarship program?
Ashley: I tried to go in with an open mind. I was so nervous to meet my buddy -- I just wanted her to like me and I wanted to find some type of connection.

Abby: I was mainly hoping to get a new style of exercise training and to meet new people in a professional but fun environment.

What were your first impressions of your buddy?
Ashley: She's so cute! And tall! I immediately knew that we were going to have fun together. She has a funky style and I could tell by her smile and her attitude that we were going to get along.

Abby: We connected at first sight. We were both the last people to figure out who our buddy would be (we played a fun matching game) and we have very similar personalities.

Describe your first ride at SOUL.
Ashley: My first ride at SOUL was terrifying. I actually hated my first AND second ride. But once I broke through that barrier, I was obsessed! I started to feel strong and confident on the bike. I caught the beat and realized how much fun it was to dance on the bike and get lost in the music.

Abby: My first ride was exhilarating. It was hard at first but it gave me a serious rush. I felt energized and tired at the same time. I was instantly hooked from that first ride.

How often do you meet up and talk?
Ashley: We meet about two times per month and we talk about everything! We ride at the amazing Brooklyn Heights Studio and when the weather is nice, we sit outside on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall and chat. We talk a lot about school, hobbies, sports and the future! Abby has so many talents; she's a cheerleader, dancer, singer and speaks three languages! She has big aspirations - definitely more than I did at her age (16) - and it's really nice to have a chance to help her navigate some of the tricky decisions and situations.

Abby: Ash and I meet as often as we can, usually once at the beginning of the month and the end. We usually talk about how our week went and then we would talk about work environments and what it's like working at SOUL and how to get jobs.

If you could describe your buddy in one word, what would it be?
Ashley: Bright!

Abby: There's really not one word, honestly. But if I had to choose it would be AMAZING.

What is the biggest thing you've learned while participating in the SoulScholarship program?
Ashley: I was surprised by how much I actually have to learn from a 16 year-old! It's really wild to hear how similar the problems that a 16 year-old might be facing are to my own. Having the opportunity to help Abby navigate high school, her goals and aspirations, and life was more rewarding than I ever could've imagined. I also have a new friend, which is really cool!

Abby: The biggest thing I've learned is definitely that first impressions go a long way. Everyone at SOUL is so positive and they always have a smile on their face. Ashley is great and she honestly taught me that if you want to get places in life you have to work hard and show people that you are what they're looking for.

That’s amazing! We’re so happy you both found each other.
Ashley: Overall, the SoulScholarship program was an incredible experience. Abby has such a bright future ahead of her and I can't wait to see all that she accomplishes!

Abby: SoulScholarship is the best program ever. I've seen people come in who thought that they could never keep up with the class and now they ride like a pro. SOUL helps people not only meet their goals, but surpass them too.

Learn more about the SoulScholarship program HERE. Questions or comments? Email! Want to ride? Grab a series HERE and book a bike!

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