Connect2Mentors — hosted the same day as Connect2STEM — inspires, enriches and engages youth of color in careers related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine. Organized by the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix and designed by the college's Black Students in Medicine group, the annual one-day event provides youth an opportunity to learn in a small group setting about career paths, as well as hear incredible stories of triumph and success.
In its first year, over 75 youth attended the event; there were 10 student mentors from the Black Students in Medicine group; and 19 mentors from fields such as aerospace and mechanical engineering, financial services and health care. These students participated in activities that included small group discussions with different mentors in various fields, listening to inspirational messages from the Black Students in Medicine group and creating a vision statement.
By exposing students to African Americans who have succeeded in STEM careers and connecting them to additional opportunities outside the classroom, the college hopes to combat the issue of low proficiency among black students on the technology and literacy assessment. In 2014, only 18 percent tested at or above proficient, whereas 56 percent of white students fell into that category.
*Financial and community support for this event was provided by the Arizona Community Foundation.
“We primarily invited youth of color because it is hard for them to find someone to relate to in these kinds of professional fields. We want to demonstrate that besides athletes and artists, people of color have powerful ties to the community and successful careers as scientists, physicians, engineers, mathematicians and more STEM careers. We also want to eliminate the racial gap that exists in these fields. We envision a future where minority groups are no minority, but instead, are the pioneers and leaders in their field of work.”
— Dario Alvarez, Second-Year Medical Student
“This was a remarkable program for youth; even though some thought at first it was going to be ‘Saturday school,’ by the end of the day, everyone exhibited an immense passion for learning. Connect2Mentors allowed students to get the best experience possible from quality programs that include a variety of activities. Connecting mentors in different fields is also a great opportunity to give students a wide-range of ways to get involved and make decisions in their career and educational goals.”
— Lanette Campbell, Youth Advisor at Maricopa County NAACP Youth and College Division
“The youth were very enthusiastic about participating in this event. They were eager to interact with the mentors, and they asked thought-provoking questions that showed their enthusiasm. This might be the only opportunity for some of these youth to hear that they are capable of achieving their dreams.”
— Agnes Ewongwo, Second-Year Medical Student