BCU graduate works to inspire youth through mentorship
By: Jerry Askin - Reporter
HOLLY HILL, Fla. - A Volusia County father is on a mission, working to keep at-risk youths on track through a mentorship program he created geared toward community service, scholarship, and mentorship.
Derrick Collins is the program director of Mr. and Mrs. Mentoring based in Holly Hill. He started the program in 2017 to help inspire youths and keep them out of the court system. The mentorship program is geared toward children 7-18.
Collins, who also works as a mental health counselor, told News 6 he has a passion for working with young people and wants kids to reach their full potential, despite their circumstances.
"I believe kids should always look to what makes them feel good, who makes them happy and focus on their strengths rather their faults. Confidence can take you a long way," Collins said.
He's been working as a youth advocate since 2010, preparing our children to be the leaders of tomorrow.
"It's needed in the community more than ever, especially with it being run by someone they can relate to on so many levels," Collins said.
With Collins' experience as a counselor, his program also has an emphasis on mental health and making sure students have positive support systems. He and other mentors affiliated with his organization serve as advocates for youths and educate them on community resources and the importance of making positive choices.
Collins believes troubled youths are less likely to become repeat offenders if they engage consistently with mentors and people who support them. Collins said he created his program based on a project where he worked with kids who were recently released from jail.
"The youth will be inspired to reinvent their individuality, while also being challenged to conquer past trauma and negative emotions," said Collins.
Collins has advice for students who may want to give up on pressing forward despite what may seem like a tough situation.
"I know it might seem hard to do, but storms never last. Some are longer than others, but the sun always returns," Collins said.
Collins has an education degree from Bethune-Cookman University. He received his masters in social work from the University of Central Florida.
Collins said his mentoring program is self-funded with some sponsorships. If you'd like to read more about the mentorship program, find out how your child can join or donate to the cause, click here.
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About Bethune Cookman University:
Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship, and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000. For more information, visit www.cookman.edu