STEM Mentoring Goes Virtual Amid Pandemic

STEM professionals at Raytheon and students at Mt. Hope High School in Bristol made some quick adjustments to keep a new mentorship program on track.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Alexander Enes is a junior at Mt. Hope High School in Bristol, aspiring to a career in mechanical engineering.

Enes say, “Technology’s always evolving, and with that you need engineers that evolve with it.”

Enes is one of 30 Mt. Hope students in a new mentorship program through Mentor Rhode Island.  The program started in February, and was meant to give students hands-on experience.  The pandemic changed that.

His mentor, Justin Calderara, is a mechanical engineer at Raytheon Missiles and Defense.

Calderara says, “There’s no longer a formal meeting time every week, and so all the contact we’ve made with each other is up to you.”

Mentors in the program are taking advantage of the change in format to teach life skills like resume building and money management.  Shana Bloom, a career coordinator with Mt. Hope High School, says the school values those skills.

Bloom says, “Students say: We’d like to understand what it means to go to college, but not walk out with a lot of student loan debt.  So, that’s why they facilitated the paying off your student loans and money management.”

Sam Sullivan with Raytheon says the program benefits their employees as well as the students, who may one day be employees themselves.

Sullivan says, “It’s a great network for these students, and it’s also a great opportunity for them to achieve in the classroom, be successful in higher education, and hopefully look for career opportunities with our company when they’re ready.”

That’s something Enes says he has considered.

Enes says, “When I heard that they were doing a program at Raytheon, I was like ‘Jeez, I want to join and see how this could help me get my foot in the door.’”

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Categories: Coronavirus, News, Our Schools, Rhode Island