Past PAESMEM awardees discuss the importance of mentoring at all levels among science, technology, engineering and mathematics students.
Photos: Lesia L. Crumpton-Young
No one knows the incredible challenges and the deep-rooted rewards of mentoring
young science students better than participants of a recent workshop hosted by NIAID. The group consisted of past awardees of Presidential Awards for Excellence
in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), who met to discuss how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) mentoring could be expanded to reach more students who need it.
Closing gaps in STEM education among underrepresented populations remains a continuing goal for NIAID’s Office of Training and Diversity, which sponsored the meeting along with the National Science Foundation and the University of Central Florida.
Discussions centered on ideas to establish a mentoring community that can serve as a national resource for enhancing STEM education at all levels.
“Mentoring our younger generation and encouraging their interest in remaining
in science is crucial not only to our institute’s long-range research program, but also to our nation’s health,” said Dr. Wendy Fibison, associate director of OTD. “Our workforce must reflect the full diversity of our population if we are to successfully meet today’s public health challenges. This workshop is taking an important step in ensuring that mentoring plays a prominent role in educating tomorrow’s innovators.”
Participants agreed on the need for an independent organization to influence national policy and advocate for mentoring and to broaden visibility of mentoring
as a critical component of STEM education. This national resource would draw on the expertise of recognized mentors, both individuals and organizations. Fully developed, the resource would be a repository for best practices in mentoring
and would serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas and collaboration.
Said Fibison, “This national resource will help spread the word on the value of mentoring. Having readily available resources to create mentoring programs and enhance our mentors’ skills will ensure that it happens.”
This past January, President Obama named 11 individuals and four organizations
as recipients of this year’s PAESMEM. Administered by NSF, PAESMEM awards recognize the vital role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal
development of students studying science and engineering—particularly
those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields. Since 1996, these awards have been made annually.