Mentoring is a vital component of the Give Back program, and mentor Diana Cepela plays a critical role in the development of our scholars. Diane has worked in education for over 30 years, beginning as a PE, Health and Math teacher. She is on her 9th year as a superintendent in the Fairmont School District in Lockport, IL.

Give Back reached out to Fairmont to offer a program in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to their students. Over several months, Diane and others looked at what Give Back could do for the students at Fairmont.

“I learned about their scholarship program and how it could help Fairmont students attend college, so I thought I should get involved,” Diane explained. “Give Back has been phenomenal to work with. Besides STEM, they speak to and support our students. They keep in constant contact and are great cheerleaders for Fairmont and our students.”

In her spare time, Diane loves to run and often travels to run. To date, she’s seen 21 states on foot, as well as London, England.

“I hope to stay active as long as possible,” Diane said. I am also remodeling my home – a creative, expensive endeavor.”

More than her running achievements, though, Diane is most proud of her four children, Jeff, Jill, Jake and Matt. Unfortunately, her family lost Matt four years ago at the the age of 24.

“His handprint is always on our hearts,” Diane said. “My children are my heart.”

Diane’s heart for her children translates to her compassionate, genuine work with Give Back scholars.

“Am I mentoring them, or are they mentoring me?” Diane said in regards to her work with the scholars. “Mentoring has been a giving relationship – my mentees give as much to me in our time together as I ever offer to them. I really believe that when you have the opportunity to give something back, to pay it forward you should.”

Thank you, Diane, for sharing your story with us, and sharing your heart and wisdom with Give Back scholars!