The Providing Opportunities to Excel program at Colorado State University Pueblo is seeking mentors from the community to aid students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.
“We’re looking for primarily people in STEM disciplines. They could be an engineer, someone in biomedical or someone with a chemical background; anyone who has a career that a student in STEM might be interested in,” Tina Moore, the director of PROPEL said.
The mentors also need to be local, successful professionals, preferably someone from the Pueblo area, Moore said. They would be expected to talk about technical things going on in their area of interest, job development and what it takes for students to get to their type of position.
Mentors would not be expected to tutor students, since tutoring in these disciplines is already available in the Math Learning Center.
“What we want the mentors to do is say, ‘this is where I am and this is how I got there,’” Moore said. “We want them to encourage the students; to show them that if the mentor got through it, then the student can get through it too.”
According to the news release, groups of 12 students or fewer would be assigned to each mentor. The mentor would be expected to spend eight hours mentoring per semester, four hours of face-to-face and four hours of electronic communications.
The program was made possible last year by a grant of $4.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is to be dispersed over a period of five years, and has allowed for many improvements in the STEM areas, including the purchase of new equipment, such as telescopes and microscopes.
The grant will now allow for the program to acquire the mentors, Moore said.
School officials are hoping that the new program will improve retention in the discipline areas and the Pueblo community.
“Research has shown that students who have mentors tend to stick with their career, and we are hoping that having a mentor will encourage them to stay in the area,” Moore said.
Allowing students to find local research projects that tie to their mentors is one way Moore mentioned which would help improve retention to the area.
The program could also encourage students to stay in the area because it allows local businesses to meet possible future interns and workforce members.
Under-served populations at CSU-Pueblo could also potentially benefit from the new program.
CSU-Pueblo is a Hispanic Serving Institution, it is also hoped that Hispanic retention rates in STEM programs to increase, Moore said. Other under-served groups which this is supposed to help include first generation students and low-income students.
Mentors who participate in the program will be eligible for a stipend of $500.
“We know it’s not much, it’s more to say thank you than to really pay them for their time,” Moore said.