By Megan Figueroa, Program Manager
“One of the most valuable experiences a gifted student can have is exposure to a mentor who is willing to share personal values, a particular interest, time, talent and skills. When the experience is properly structured and the mentor is a good match for the student, the relationship can provide both mentor and student with encouragement, inspiration, new insights and other personal rewards”. This eloquently put statement by Sandra Berger in her article “Mentor Relationships and Gifted Learners” encapsulates what our student’s takeaways have been from EXPLORE Mentor program.
We know that being a gifted child can be difficult. They can experience self-doubt and low self-esteem as they attempt to understand their abilities and navigate relationships and experiences among their peers, often feeling misunderstood and unseen.
This is where a role model in the form of a mentor can be beneficial to a gifted child. Mentors allow children trying to understand their unique gifts and talents an avenue to share interests, passions, thoughts and doubts in a constructive, supportive space.
This is what we aim to do in the EXPLORE program, by intentionally matching Externs and Mentors that they may thrive, experiencing validation and support by someone who understands and can guide them.
At the culmination of EXPLORE each year, Externs share the impact of the program and how their mentor has helped shape their career aspirations, given them the confidence to follow their dreams, and provided them with useful tools that will enrich their professional and interpersonal experiences in the future.
Here is what they had to say about their mentors.
“The most important things I learned, from Dr. Yeh, were the hands-on wet-lab techniques and how to turn questions into experiments. Having this experience at a young age allows me a better chance at thriving in my career field.” – Abheerava Koka, EXPLORE 2019
“Working at SIMA, with Michael and Virginia, I realized how much social impact really means to me, especially in a world where these issues are becoming more prominent and sparking more debates amongst different groups of people. I hope to find a career where I can apply what I’ve learned.” – Nikki Wu, EXPLORE 2019
“I learned how to interact with others in a professional manner. Some skills can only be learned in a job environment, which I knew, but this summer reminded me how important “real life” experiences truly are.” – Cindy Xie, EXPLORE 2019
“Working with my mentors at Sci-Arc really helped me overcome the shyness in me. Before I struggled to ask for help but know I feel more comfortable doing so.” – Emily Aguilar Sanchez, EXPLORE 2019
THANK YOU to all our past Mentors who have dedicated their time and talent to supporting and encouraging the gifted students in this program.
We are excited to share who will be joining us as Mentors for EXPLORE 2020. Thank you to Dr. Christopher Barnes, Dr. Pamela Yeh, Stan Kong, Betty Kassis, Toby Harper, Monica Fernandez, Dr. Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, Dr. Aaron Blaisdell, Dr. Sasha Wright and the many more professionals who have committed to mentoring a gifted youth as they explore their passions this summer. We look forward to hearing how you have impacted their lives this year.
Click here to learn more about the 2020 EXPLORE Program. IEA is also still looking for qualified mentors to join the 2020 cohort. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in becoming an EXPLORE mentor.