Maddy began with MATES through University of Auckland’s EDUC200 paper. Three years on, she is one of our MATES Coordinators. She loves the energy, creativity, and positive impact mentors can have on students.


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Great Potentials.

Kia ora! My name is Maddy Jennings. I’m finishing my degree in Psychology and Education. I joined Great Potentials in 2021 as a MATES Mentor through Auckland University’s EDUC200 paper, and last year I became a MATES Coordinator.

This is my third year with MATES, and I am now a MATES Coordinator, looking after both the MATES Junior and Senior programmes. My role includes coordinating and providing support and guidance for MATES mentors and mentees at our partnered intermediate and high schools in Auckland.

After encountering issues at high school around education and support systems, I decided to pursue my interests in providing support to students who may not otherwise be able to receive the tools and help they need.

I plan to volunteer abroad later this year/next year in Kenya to further experience working with disadvantaged youth on a wider scale.

What is a typical day at your job?  

I work at four different schools: Papakura Intermediate, Auckland Girls Grammar, Finlayson Park School and Clendon Park School. Each mentoring session runs after school, starting around 3pm. I prepare the day before by speaking with the mentors to see what resources they need, contacting teachers about absences and what support is needed for everyone. After each session, I always do a debrief with the mentors to talk about the challenges and achievements.

What do you love the most about your job? 

I love the energy the mentoring sessions bring; the mentors are so creative, and I think they often underestimate the impact they have on young students’ lives. There are also special moments of being able to see the progress and bonding of the mentors’ and mentees’ relationship throughout the year.

How did the MATES programme make a difference for you?

Hearing stories from students who come from various ethnicities and backgrounds pushed me to advocate for them and to support them further their studies and potential.  

Also, being able to see mentors and mentees gain confidence and pursue their dreams through MATES feels good.  It has made me appreciate the little things more, even just having a mentee say they had a great session makes my week!    

Was there a special and/or unforgettable moment during your time with MATES 

Seeing a mentoring relationship flourish through the game of chess. The mentor brought a chess set to a session and his mentee ended up teaching him how to become better at the game. When he discovered that the mentee didn’t have a chess set of her own, he gifted her the one they had been using throughout their mentoring on the last session of the year.

It was so special for me to see their mentoring relationship flourish through teaching each other skills and celebrating that with a memorable gift!

Based on your experience, do you have any advice for both mentors and mentees? 

My advice for future mentors is to be creative! It’s very important when engaging with young people (particularly juniors). For the mentees my advice would be, whatever you want to achieve, you can achieve it. Nothing is out of reach, everything is possible!