Ready, Set, EXPLORE!

July 11, 2017

by Niña Abonal, EXPLORE Program Coordinator


IEA’s EXPLORE program is in full swing! This year, the selection and placement process was especially competitive as students vied for a chance to work with distinguished mentors and sites willing to host only a selected number of students. In addition to meeting site specific pre-requisites, applicants underwent a rigorous application process which included participating in a phone interview and submitting two letters of recommendation, two essays, a professional resume, academic transcripts, standardized test scores, and sample work.

After students were vetted and selected for the program, they were thoughtfully matched with mentors who shared similar passions in their career field of interest and had professional trajectories externs hoped to pursue in the future. In the end, 20 exceptional students were placed to work and conduct college level research at eight mentor sites throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. Each student demonstrated excellence in education, strong leadership skills, a passion for learning, and a desire to continuously challenge themselves. Mentors who saw their extern’s profile and resume were impressed at how accomplished and adept these young people were, despite only being in high school.


To prepare Cohorts 1 and 2 for their externship experience, students participated in a weekend orientation at University of California, Los Angles (UCLA). They had an opportunity to get acquainted with their peers, engage in team building activities, including a scavenger hunt around UCLA, and participate in a professional development workshop focused on strengthening their communication, conflict management, and networking skills. Students offered great insights during discussions and contributed their talents and knowledge to various activities throughout the day. Following the orientation students hit the ground running as they delved into their mentor’s research and worked to develop their final research projects. In a few more weeks, nine students from Cohort 3 will begin their externship experience at the Southern California Institute of Architecture.


As a new component of EXPLORE, students meet every Friday to attend educational excursions and workshops geared towards building their college and career readiness. Workshops not only provide a supportive forum for externs for share their triumphs and challenges from the work week, but they also allow externs  to learn from experts who share their insights about finding the right college fit, writing personal narratives for college, interviewing and writing resumes, assessing personality and career fit, and developing financial literacy. This addition has proved to be a wonderful way to create a strong sense of community among brilliant, like-minded young people.

With only a few more weeks left, students will soon be culminating from EXPLORE and presenting their final research projects at the EXPLORE Culmination ceremonies on July 27th and August 11th. If you’re curious about the great work these students are doing, please join us in the celebration during IEA’s Summer Spotlight event!

EXPLORE would not be possible without the generosity of time, knowledge, and expertise of our dedicated mentors. We appreciate the continued support and dedication of our mentors and would like to extend our gratitude to EXPLORE 2017 Mentors:

Dr. Henri Ford, MD – Children’s Hospital Los AngelesDr. Peter Reiher, Ph.D – UCLA Dept. of Computer ScienceDr. Van Savage, Ph.D – UCLA Dept. of Biomathematics

Dr. Pamela Yeh, Ph.D – UCLA Dept. of Evolutionary Biology & Ecology

Ms. Harmony Jiroudek – Kadenze

Mr. Scott Groller – Kadenze

Dr. Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, Ph.D – Apsara Media for Intercultural Education/UCLA EthnomusicologyDr. Gavin Bahadur, MD – UCLA Jules Stein Eye InstituteMs. Mira Henry, M.Arch – Southern California Institute of Architecture

Ms. Abagael Warnars – Southern California Institute of Architecture

Ms. Rebecca Wiscombe – Southern California Institute of Architecture

If you are a 9th-11th grade high school student who would like to gain hands-on experience and study a specific career field of interest, consider applying to EXPLORE next summer! Check out the EXPLORE webpage for updates about deadlines and future mentor sites.

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