The University of Connecticut (UCconn) Mentor Connection Program enriches its participants at many levels.
Advertising itself as another competitive summer program for high school students, the program assures participants that they will commit four weeks of summer to work. Accepted applicants work with university professors and graduate students of high caliber. The experts host exceptional high school students in their labs and studios, and together they work on projects in shared areas of interest. These shared interests are extended from the arts to advanced sciences.
While discussing the program, Sahil Vora, a graduate student pursuing a PhD at University of Connecticut, told JSR, “ Students and mentors come together. We form a community of scholars working together on issues on the cutting edge of various fields of study.”
The program stresses a professionalism that is enforced by its rigor and intensity. This intensity motivates students and the mentors to be passionate.
Linh Quach, a senior attending East Hartford High School, told JSR, “I thought [Mentor Connection] would be a nice bullet point to add on my resume for college apps, but the experience has been so much more than what you could put in a few lines.”
Quach continued, “I have a roommate from California, a suitemate from Georgia, and a lab partner from South Korea. Although we have diverse backgrounds, there was an instant click when we start interacting with each other.”
After settling into the dorm buildings, students found that the illusion that they’d be spending a month at a “nerd camp” was quickly shattered.
“[The people] I met here are all passionate, intelligent, and talented individuals; being with these people makes me feel like I found my place. So far, it’s been an eye-opening experience where I learned about other people, different career paths, and, most importantly, myself,” said Quach.
She concluded, “All I can say is, these moments are truly the highlights of my summer.”
The lessons taught, skills honed, and people met set Mentor Connection apart from other programs. The experience enhances the students’ awareness of their talent areas and career opportunities, and it enlightens them of their capabilities.