For Jennifer Medlock’s 40th birthday, she bought a vintage Jeep, took up martial arts and was offered her dream job. Married for 15 years — and mom of middle school daughter Mallie and elementary school son Joe — the Greenville native says the milestone birthday ushered in fresh change. Her new role as director of Mentor Upstate – Greenville was a natural fit for her corporate and volunteer experience, but shifting the trajectory of a child’s life is what fires her up. She’s been a mentor herself in the program for five years. Mentor Upstate is a mentoring program of the Frazee Center that coordinates mentoring programs in area schools by recruiting and training adult volunteers while providing resources for teachers and administrators. It is the largest mentoring program in South Carolina and is privately funded through corporate gifts, personal donations and school spirit weeks with no religious affiliation.

1. Who makes a great mentor?

Anyone who cares about the community around them and has 30 minutes a week to share with a student.

2. How do you become a mentor and what does it entail?

You complete an application online and attend one training session that lasts less than an hour. We ask mentors to have breakfast or lunch with their student at school one day a week for one school year.

3. How are students chosen?

Guidance counselors and teachers select students that would benefit from the one-on-one interaction mentoring brings.

4. What quality do you most admire in others?

Gratefulness because grateful people are the best people to be around.

5. What’s your super power?

Getting it done. I am productivity-based and list driven. You will rarely find me without a to-do list in hand.

6. What do you do for fun?

I play in a volleyball league and I love to sing, but I didn’t realize I had a good voice until after I graduated from Converse College.

7. What is something important life has taught you?

It takes a village. Each of us has something significant to contribute.

8. What would surprise people about you?

My great grandfather’s brother, S.C. Jones, brought a rock from Death Valley, California, to (Clemson) Coach Howard in the early 1960s as a souvenir. It became Howard’s Rock at Clemson University.

9. Whom do you admire?

Frazee Center and Mentor Upstate co-founders Matt and Jenny Reeves, who gave up traditional careers because they felt called to support children in their community. They saw a need and were not afraid to take action.

10. What is the last book you loved?

“For the Love,” by Jen Hatmaker. It’s a mom’s perspective on life, parenting and dealing with the craziness of the everyday. She’s about doing it, not talking about doing it.

11. What has surprised you most about being a parent?

That it’s fun. Kids are fun! I’ve enjoyed every stage better than the last.

12. What is Mentor Upstate’s reach?

As of today, we are in five counties: Greenville, Anderson, Pickens, Oconee and a pilot program in Spartanburg District 2. We are in so many schools now that it is likely there’s a program near just about anyone. We want the mentor experience to be something that fits easily into the work week and right now I have 12 schools that need 23 or more mentors.

13. What is your favorite restaurant?

Pita House.

14. What childhood memory do you cherish?

Spending a week with each of my grandparents every summer without my siblings.

15. What one thing really makes your day?

When someone takes something off my to-do list. My daughter took out the trash this morning. It was awesome.

16. What is your favorite movie?

“Schindler’s List” because one person made the decision to take an enormous risk and it saved hundreds of lives. Today, there are 7,000 descendants from those survivors.

17. What is your pet peeve?

All my friends know that Capri Sun straw wrappers drive me crazy.

18. Who makes you laugh?

My husband, Bert.

19. What chore do you really hate to do?

I don’t iron. My daughter recently asked me how to “make a shirt flat” and when I opened the ironing board it scared the dog.

20. Cake or pie?

Pound cake. My wedding cake was pound cake.

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