STEM mentorship program launched

Freshmen who are considering majoring in a STEM field now have the option of working with an upperclassman mentor in a new program offered by the Yale College Council’s Science and Engineering Subcommittee.

On Nov. 14, roughly 185 freshmen who are prospective STEM majors and 125 juniors and seniors majoring in STEM subjects gathered in the Calhoun College dining hall for the STEM Sibs Mentoring Program’s ice cream social kickoff event. SES chair Josh Ackerman ’14 and 12 committee members created the program to provide freshmen with a fellow student they could approach for advice relating to classes, internships or research opportunities within the majors.

“We knew that a mentorship program could be very valuable for freshmen students majoring in science and engineering disciplines,” Ackerman said. “Our ultimate goal is to foster a STEM community at Yale by bringing together students who have similar interests — we want them to have the opportunity to meet with their STEM Sibs over meals, for froyo or for coffee.”

Ackerman said the group hopes to replicate the “big sib, little sib” model used in residential colleges to connect new freshmen with upperclassmen. SES members sent emails on Oct. 30 to all freshmen who expressed interest in STEM majors on their college applications and to all upperclassmen STEM majors asking students whether they would be interested in participating in the mentorship program. Most STEM pairs share the same major, and they range from one freshman paired with one upperclassman to five freshmen paired with one upperclassman, Ackerman added.

SES has organized a study break at the end of the fall semester, and the group plans to hold a Bluebooking party and a midterm study break in the spring, Ackerman said. He added that SES hopes to schedule dinners with faculty members within specific STEM majors.

With its new program, SES hopes to foster a community among STEM majors on campus, Ackerman said.

“We hope that, as the program grows, we can also bring sophomores into the STEM Sibs model and make this initiative undergraduate-wide.”

Shalila de Bourmont ’16, a prospective molecular, cellular and developmental biology major, said she was hesitant to join the program because the University provides many other sources of support for new freshmen. But as classes became more difficult throughout her first semester, she wanted someone to consult for a student perspective, she said. Besides giving advice about classes within a major, de Bourmont added, she hoped her mentor could also help with problem sets.

Sarah Strong ’16, who is interested in mathematics and physics, said her mentor has already provided her with advice about finding research opportunities, which she thinks are not immediately accessible to freshmen.

The SES subcommittee meets every Saturday at noon in Jonathan Edwards College.

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