Changemakers, Our Work for Students

Mentorship to Friendship: Mentor and Mentee form Life-Long Bond

From Naples, Florida to Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 2,400 miles won’t get in the way of Fernando Orellana and Chuck Carlsen.

Orellana is an alumnus of Champions For Learning and is currently in his last semester at Florida Gulf Coast University studying software engineering. Two weeks after graduation, Orellana plans to move across the country to begin a job as an Engineering Analyst in the Global Markets Division at Goldman Sachs.

With a full-time job lined up before receiving a college diploma, Orellana says he did not always know what he wanted to pursue after high school. He credits his recent accomplishments to his family, Champions For Learning and his mentor, Chuck Carlsen.

“Chuck has done a lot in my life and a lot of the things I have accomplished are thanks to him,” said Orellana.

Carlsen was Orellana’s mentor for four years while he attended Lorenzo Walker Technical High School.

“It was a terrific experience. I had more fun engaging and talking with him about certain skills in life and seeing him develop into the person he is today. It was very rewarding,” said Carlsen.

During a time when Orellana did not know what his future held for him, Carlsen was there to provide support and options.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to major in when I was in high school, so I would just talk to Chuck about how I want to be an FBI agent, or I want to be an OR surgeon,” said Orellana. “He would bring in people that actually worked in those fields just so I could talk to them and see what their jobs are and see if I would like it. He just made everything possible, and he was always there for me.”

Orellana says talking with multiple people from different professions gave him a better understanding of what to expect later in life.

“He had different interests. So, I brought different friends of mine in to meet and to talk to him about whatever his interests were, or to give him some life skill ideas of what he could do in his life,” said Carlsen. “He had a real good understanding when they left about what things happen in life and how things go together.”

Orellana says he has always liked math and computers. After researching careers and working with Carlsen, he decided to pursue software engineering.

Carlsen’s mentorship did not stop when Orellana graduated from the Champions For Learning program. The two have stayed in touch throughout Orellana’s time in college.

“We stay in touch by meeting frequently for lunch. I don’t know how it’s going to work when he goes to Salt Lake City, but we’ll figure it out,” said Carlsen.

While Carlsen and Orellana may not know how staying in touch will look when they live states away, it is certain they will remain part of each other’s lives for years to come.

“Chuck will always be in my heart. He will always be my friend, no matter what happens,” said Orellana.