Like many teenagers, 17-year-old Alex Gerlach was having trouble focusing on his future. A senior in high school at the Albino Fantin Public School in Horizontina, Brazil, he also didn't know what he could be doing at the present to ensure his future success.
Then he met Aguila Wenning, an HR supervisor at John Deere's Horizontina facility. "Alex is motivated to get a good education and job, but he didn’t have the support from his family, who encouraged him to work instead of study," Aguila said.
During their bi-weekly meetings, Aguila and Alex built a friendship based on trust and gratitude. "The first time we met I was shy, but little by little, I started to realize how much she could help me," Alex noted. "With the support of my mentor, I improved my grades, created a life plan for myself, and learned how to achieve my dreams. This mentorship came when I really needed it to define my future," he added.
Aguila helped Alex plan for a career as a veterinarian including looking for a post-secondary school, finding government education assistance, and meeting with a professional to explore the career options available in the veterinary medicine field. "My mentor helped me identify the doors I needed to knock on," said Alex. "She has had a big influence on who I am today and where I want to go. She made me believe in myself. "
As for Aguila, she says the mentoring experience was extremely rewarding. "To know about these students' reality, to know Alex’s dreams and help him see that they are possible, gave me a sense of realization and engagement with the future that I want for the next generation. I’m very proud to be part of this initiative," she said.
The John Deere in the School program encourages employees of John Deere Brazil to volunteer at public schools near Deere facilities. Career guidance for students is a primary focus area. Students visit John Deere factories, learn about various professions, and receive guidance on developing effective resumes and interviewing techniques.
John Deere in the School is part of the larger Sowing Futures program, a partnership of the John Deere Foundation, Fundação John Deere and Global Communities, focused on volunteer-driven community and youth development.