For two years, I’ve worked alongside the UW-Madison Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE), which seeks to increase enrollment and graduation rates of students from underserved areas. I provided hands-on experience and exposure to daily research activities to my mentees, Benedetta Lu and Aneyali Jaimes.
Before Aneyali left this summer, she wrote me a letter. “I will admit. I was very nervous and scared the first day, but after we did the Sharpie demo I knew it was going to be OK. As I spent more time with you in the lab, it became the thing I looked forward to throughout the day,” Aneyali said. “Throughout this experience, my interest in pursuing a career/major in chemistry has definitely increased.”
Aneyali was referring to a demonstration where we spotted different colored permanent markers on a silica plate and observed how the different dyes in the markers traveled different distances when exposed to solvent. It is a safe, easy-to-understand demonstration for the new mentees to complete that allows me to start explaining chemical concepts with visible effects.
I have also mentored two undergraduate students. These mentoring experiences not only help me to reflect on my instructional methods, but also challenge me to make an abstract chemistry problem personally relevant to the student, while sparking an intellectual interest in the work.