The most important piece of advice that Allinda Smith ever received from a mentor was to be grateful for good guidance, but more importantly, to pay it forward. The CFES Brilliant Pathways alumna is doing just that as an undergraduate at LIU Brooklyn where she volunteers as a tutor and mentor.

Introduced to mentoring in high school through CFES at Brooklyn Institute for Liberal Arts, Smith has spent the last two years helping high school and middle school students achieve their academic goals and plan for their future.

“The most valuable lesson I learned from both of my mentors is the act of paying it forward,” says Smith, who made the LIU Brooklyn Division I fencing team as a walk-on. “You are not always able to pay that person back for what they have done for you, but you can pay it forward. Any act of generosity, big or small can go a long way.”

Smith took it a step further by assisting with event planning for the pre-collegiate Science & Technology Program (STEP) and the Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) programs. She also runs their social media accounts and promotes on-campus events through the student life organization.

“The most valuable lesson I learned from both of my mentors is the act of paying it forward”

Smith credits mentors Leydi Imam and Serghio Adams – both LIU Brooklyn alumni and former directors of STEP and CSTEP – with guiding her along a successful college and career path, and inspiring her to help younger students in the same way.

“Through that connection they have helped me network throughout the campus by encouraging me to get more involved,” says Smith. “I have made connections with many other faculty members at LIU through them. They allowed me to sit in on some of their meetings with faculty members, students and alumni. Not only have they given me the opportunity to network better, but they have provided support and wisdom to me.”

Now that she has been a tutor herself for over two years, Smith has some advice of her own she shares with mentees:

“You will never learn anything until you make mistakes. Many people think that high school is where you should make all your mistakes, so that you’ll be prepared for college. I believe that college prepares you for many obstacles that you will face in your life. Make mistakes and learn from them. That’s the only way you’ll get better.”