Planting seeds and watching them grow is a favorite pastime for Dana Uzzo. Now, she is doing the same with a student she’s only met online. She was invited to be a mentor in Orange County United Way’s “United for Student Success” campaign. Three hundred high school seniors from neighborhoods that are hardest hit by COVID-19 are paired with mentors who can help them graduate towards a path to college. Seventeen-year-old Alexies Benitez is Uzzo’s mentee.

“I just really wanted to be there for her and be her cheerleader and help her where I could,” said Uzzo, who is a working professional.

Since the pandemic, Uzzo has been working from home managing commercial real estate loans. One day, an opportunity came into her inbox.

“When I got the email, I was like, ‘This is perfect.’ It’s a perfect opportunity to do that,” said Uzzo.