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Louise Tutelian discovered HOLA over three years ago on VolunteerMatch.org when she was searching for organizations that combined her interests in literacy, writing and students. She had never been a mentor and hadn’t intended to be one! But she was intrigued when she found out that HOLA was looking for people with writing skills who might want to help college-bound students with their personal statements. Louise had been a journalist for many years, and had recently watched as her three kids struggled with their essays. She knew what the kids were facing and thought working with them would be a good fit. Now she’s in her third application “season” working as a high school mentor.

Louise has volunteered in so many different capacities, including leading workshops and volunteering at HOLA events, but the most lasting impact she has made has been the development of a mentor handbook. She worked tirelessly over the course of several months with the high school staff and the  result is nothing short of fantastic. The handbook is already being used by this year’s mentors. It is filled with incredibly useful information, including college search sites, application issues, where to find video tours and FAFSA instructions.

One of Louise’s favorite things to do as a mentor is to go on college visits with her mentees. They don’t go all that far—Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Diego—but these “road trips” are a fun break from the serious part of applying to college. They take a tour, check out the dining hall and dorms and hit the bookstore. And they always get junk food for the ride home.

Louise was a journalist, writing for newspapers, magazines and online, for over 25 years. But becoming a mentor led her to a career change that she wasn’t planning. Slowly, the stories she was writing interested her less than the stories she was hearing—from the students at HOLA. She enrolled in the UCLA College Counseling Certificate Program and is now in the final stage of the eight-course program. She is doing an internship at Venice High School, helping seniors select and apply to colleges. It is an incredibly busy LAUSD school with only one college counselor for 536 seniors.

After she receives her certificate, Louise plans to split her time between mentoring at HOLA and being an independent college counselor for private clients. When you ask Louise about HOLA, her response comes easily ” [t]here is magic happening here.”


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