For Mentors

Externships Providing Leadership Opportunities for Research and Education (EXPLORE) matches high-potential and gifted high school students with distinguished mentors, hands-on research opportunities, and professional experience in their field of interest.

With the support and guidance of volunteer mentors and IEA staff, students learn about working in a variety of professional settings and advance their skills through the pursuit of knowledge and exposure to optimally challenging learning experiences. Students also grow intellectually through collaborative discussions and work with like-minded peers, college-level students, and professionals.

Why Mentorship?

• What highly gifted students need most are good mentors to serve as guides as they navigate complex subject matter. (1)

• Mentorships are particularly effective in guiding the development of gifted young people through difficult formative years. (2)

• Through mentoring relationships, gifted students are able to mature, explore future careers and successes, apply classroom knowledge, and gain role models (3)

• Mentoring experiences help remove the barriers to advanced learning that schools can sometimes create.

(1)  Fischer, Christian. Scientific American, Gifted Children: How to Bring Out Their Potential, September, 2008,,
(2) Gallagher, J.J. Teaching the gifted child. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1985
(3)Berger, Sandra L. Mentor Relationships and Gifted Learners. Reston, VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children, 1990.



Make a Difference


Imagine having an impact on young people who are just starting to explore the career and educational path you have already traveled.

You can make a difference by:

• Providing a forum for them to apply and strengthen their knowledge and skills in an area of study
• Increasing their understanding of the field
• Nurturing their passion for a specific subject
• Sharing your time and expertise
• Fostering their development of interpersonal, leadership, and creative problem-solving skills


How EXPLORE Mentors Benefit


Past mentors report the following professional and personal benefits from working with EXPLORE Externs:

• Helping young people gain real-world experience in the field
• Viewing the research or project from a fresh perspective
• Potential contributions to and assistance with one’s work
• Fostering personal teaching skills
• Staying in touch with new aspects of the field
• Having an opportunity to interact with bright high school students which provided perspective on personal experience
• Fulfilling a requirement for obtaining government funding by conducting educational outreach


How Mentors Are Matched with Mentees


Applicants  submit a portfolio-based application which includes 2 letters of recommendation, 2 essays, sample work, academic transcripts, standardized test scores, a professional resume, and 3 career fields of interest. Applicants also go through an interview with IEA staff.


Overall Responsibilities


• Commit to working with a student for 3 to 6 weeks over the summer (for 5 to 8 hours, Monday through Thursday)
• Design a hands-on project(s) or research work for the student which can be completed (or on which visible progress can be made) by the end of the program
• Provide support and constructive feedback on student’s performance and project development
• Openly communicate with the Program Coordinator regarding a student’s successes and challenges


Mentor Qualifications


Qualified Mentors for EXPLORE are:

• Passionate about continuous learning and self-development
• Interested in engaging and working with high potential and gifted youth
•  Willing to actively participate and commit to fulfilling mentor responsibilities for the entire duration of the program

Become a Mentor

2017 Program Details

Mentor Site Locations:


Greater Los Angeles Area

Check the Sites and Mentors page for descriptions of each site.


Program Dates:


Session I: Saturday, June 17 – Friday, July 7, 2017 (3 weeks)

Session II: Saturday, July 8 – Friday, July 28, 2017 (3 weeks)

Both Sessions: Saturday, June 17 – Friday, July 28, 2017 (6 weeks)

Session III:  Saturday, July 29 – Friday, August 11, 2017 (2 weeks; for SCI-ARC site only)



Student Application Deadline:


Monday, April, 10, 2017




In order to be considered for the program, students must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be currently in the 9th, 10th, or 11th grade
  • Must be under the age of 18 for the duration of the program
  • Be highly motivated, high-achieving students
  • Have an interest in pursuing an advanced topic through an in-depth course of study

Some sites require students to be of a minimum age or have prerequisites; these requirements will be listed with the site description. IEA utilizes our portfolio-based application to determine eligibility and to match qualified applicants with the most appropriate sites and mentors.


Program Fees


Session I: $975

Session II: $975

Both Session I & II: $1,950

Session III: $650

Scholarships and payment plans are available to students in need, and financial concerns should not discourage any student from applying.

Program fees cover:

  • Weekly  skill building workshops and educational excursions
  • 2-day Professional Development Orientation, in-person debrief session, and Final culmination ceremony
  • Matching mentors with students
  • High-quality mentoring experience
  • Laboratory and/or materials fees
  • Direct support from IEA staff throughout the duration of the program

EXPLORE Mentors continue to volunteer their time, wisdom, and expertise with  EXPLORE students because of their remarkable potential and the work they perform with them each summer.

Our program would not be possible without our amazing Mentors! Thank you to our 2016 EXPLORE Mentors:


Dr. Mel Baron, PharmDProfessor of Clinical PharmacyUSC School of Pharmacy
Gail Peter BordenAssociate Dean of Academic Affairs ; Architecture Discipline Head; Associate Professor of Architecture USC School of Architecture
Jesus CampagnaLab Manager; Staff Research AssociateUCLA Mary S. Easton Center
Emily ColdironProgram CoordinatorCoachArt
Amanda EnoLead Production ManagerKadenze
Dr. Henri Ford MD, MHA, FACS, FAAPVP and Surgeon in Chief; Vice Chair and Professor, Dept. of Surgery; Vice Dean of Medical Education USCChildren’s Hospital Los Angeles
Dr. Jaime GoldenPhysician FellowChildren’s Hospital Los Angeles
Dr. Anatoly GrishinAssociate Professor of Research Surgery; Researcher Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Dr. Lynne HillenbrandProfessorCaltech Astronomy
Dr. Mubina IsaniResearcherChildren’s Hospital Los Angeles
Harmony JiroudekDirector of Academic Customer RelationsKadenze
Dr. Varghese JohnAssociate Adjunct Professor; Co-Director of ADDNUCLA Mary S. Easton Center
Stan KongProfessorArt Center College of Design
Dr. Luciano NoceraSenior Research Associate and Associate Director of School of EngineeringUSC IMSC
Dr. Peter ReiherAdjunct Professor; Principal InvestigatorUSC Laboratory for Advanced Systems Research
Erick RodriguezProgram CoordinatorCoachArt
Dr. Van SavageProfessor; Principal InvestigatorUCLA Dept. of Biomathematics and Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Dr. Pamela YehAssistant ProfessorUCLA Dept. of Evolutionary Biology
online application
paper application

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Provide a Hands-On Experience:
Sponsor an IEA Apprentice


A gifted mind that is fed and fostered can achieve great things. By funding the IEA EXPLORE program, you will not only change a life, you might also spark a discovery that changes the world.

Please consider:

Hosting an Extern: Share your professional expertise, time, and support through direct mentorship.

Sponsoring an Extern: Help ensure that no child is ever turned away due to lack of funds. We’ll match you with an IEA Extern and keep you posted on his or her progress and the results of their efforts.


Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
533 Airport Blvd., Suite 200
Burlingame, CA 94010


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