Working in the Schools works with over twenty-five program partners to provide literacy support and mentorship. Fran Borrayo, a longtime mentor, has worked for two of them. He started his volunteer service while employed at the law firm, Jenner & Block, and traveled to Fairfield Elementary Academy to read with his Mid-Day Mentoring (MDM) students. When he left the firm for a new job, we thought we’d have to say goodbye to him. Luckily, we didn’t; Fran currently works at McDermott Will & Emery and volunteers with the MDM program at William H. Brown STEM Magnet School. We asked him about his time mentoring at two different WITS partner schools, his most memorable moments at program, and what he likes to do when he’s not volunteering.
What brought you to WITS?
A good chunk of my free time while in undergrad was spent volunteering with different school and community organizations, and I was looking for a way to continue volunteering in Chicago while working. An email for a WITS information session was circulated via email by my employer. I’d never before been a part of a program like WITS, but I was immediately interested.
Can you tell us about a favorite memory you have of reading with a student?
I was working with a student that was having a tough time finding interest in reading because it was difficult for them. We repeatedly switched books, trying to find one that both caught the student’s attention and one they could read. We came across a book about the weather, and they loved it! The book’s writing followed a pattern that the student recognized, and they could use the pictures as context clues when they needed extra help. Their reading confidence visibly grew with the weather book, which carried over into the next books we read together.
What was your experience like volunteering in the Mid-Day Mentoring program at two different schools: Fairfield and Brown?
Despite the schools being in different Chicago neighborhoods, I was happy to see the students from both schools equally excited to read with their WITS mentors.
What are you doing when you’re not at WITS?
When I’m not at WITS, I’m working as a full-time Technology Trainer at McDermott Will & Emery. My spare time is used to read about the law; I’m a part-time law student at Loyola University Chicago. When I can find a few bits of spare time after work and school, I love going to the movies and exploring Chicago coffee shops.
What is your last favorite book that you’ve read and why?
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. The book’s subject matter is difficult, but the author’s extremely descriptive approach to their writing made the book so captivating to read.
How has volunteering at WITS impacted your idea of what it means to be of service?
Volunteering with WITS has reminded me that being of service doesn’t necessarily mean traveling to distant places or donating exorbitant amounts of money. While those are effective avenues of service, being involved in my own community and collaborating with people of various ages and backgrounds yields meaningful service with a tremendous impact.