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DU-WHS STEM Mentoring Reflection

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By: Laura Daniela Moreno Palmar

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group of high school students with back towards camera in science room

During the year 2023, I had the privileged opportunity to participate in a mentoring program aimed at high school students who were at the crossroads of deciding their academic future, whether it be entering college or exploring the various available career paths. This experience meant for me a profound journey of introspection, revealing the notable disparities between the educational system of the United States and that of my native Colombia.

Throughout this process, we would gather weekly virtually with a maximum of five students, who would openly share their aspirations and challenges in the arduous college selection process. Despite the initial difficulty in fostering their active participation, the virtual nature of our interaction added a new level of complexity, requiring us to overcome additional obstacles to establish meaningful connections.

However, the individual meetings I was able to hold with each student provided an invaluable opportunity to deepen bonds and share my own journey of studying abroad. This personal exchange facilitated greater intimacy and mutual trust, enriching our shared experience.

Looking back on my time as a mentor in the program, I recall the incredible transformations I witnessed in the students with whom I worked. One student, in particular, was initially hesitant to share their dreams, but as we met virtually week after week, they gradually opened up and gained confidence in what she wanted.

Doing everything online presented its own set of challenges. It took some extra effort to make those connections via a screen. But the real breakthroughs came during our one-on-one conversations. We formed a bond that extended beyond the computer screen as I shared my own experiences studying abroad.

Seeing these students grow was inspiring. They embraced their own paths with renewed determination, each demonstrating how diverse and unique our journeys can be. And I learned a lot from their stories, including how to appreciate different points of view and the strength we all have within us.

Participating as a mentor in this program has been an extremely enriching experience, contributing significantly to the strengthening of my leadership and effective communication skills. Immersing myself in the stories and aspirations of the students, I have witnessed a positive transformation in my own perspective, coming to understand and appreciate the diversity of paths that each individual chooses in their life journey.

I have come to recognize that there is no single "right" or "better" path, but rather a rich variety of experiences that enrich the human tapestry. This new perspective has allowed me to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of human diversity and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual.