Two years ago, we established our first institutional mentoring program at the college. I had cultivated Genzyme, a Sanofi company, for some time prior and we benefited from the leadership of two significant executive ambassadors internal to the company. Once launched, the program became successful almost overnight. Working with the Dean of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), we began building our mentor pool and brought on new partners like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mathworks, and other smaller companies. The mentoring program grew to include monthly seminars and other events, tours, and a few scattered internships for students.
By the end of the first year, I committed to building partnerships to benefit students in other discipline clusters. I shared this with a good colleague from the United Way who invited me to the Boston Scientific Annual Black History Month celebration. There, I networked with several employees, one of whom turned out to be an alumnus of our college. I shared the idea of the mentoring program with Joseph Asaya and, in no time, he began leading the charge to build institutional support at Boston Scientific for the initiative. He also brought on Dr. Jeri’Ann Hiller to share the leadership responsibilities with him.
Working with an Alumnus to Explore the e-Mentoring Frontier
With Joseph’s and Jeri’Ann’s leadership, the ideas and potential for building on the sophistication of the program grew like wildfire. Throughout the process, I ensured that our business/ legal/finance faculty members and deans were engaged. If this program were to develop to its full potential and be sustained over time, we would need the best and brightest on our end as well, not just a program coordinator. Our students deserve every advantage that we can give them. As a community college, it is our responsibility to help them build the kinds of social capital and to facilitate their acquisition of the experiential knowledge, skills, and disposition that will help them succeed over the course of their careers, not just in their first post-graduation entry-level job. Sharing this view with our two Boston Scientific leaders was like speaking to the choir. They got it and they were committed!
Soon, Joseph and Jeri’Ann assembled a cadre of scientists, human resources, and finance professionals not only in Massachusetts, but also in Minnesota and Washington D.C. We had an all-stars team to get to know and to train for successful relationship-building with our students. This was our first time implementing an e-mentoring program with mentors who were not located in the same state as our students. We were all committed to ensuring that it is successful. As my responsibilities grew, I turned the project over to the deans and the woman who made the Genzyme/Sanofi project on our end the success that it is, Valerie Kapilow.
Role Models and a Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility
Last week, I had dinner with Joseph and Jeri’Ann to thank them as we are nearing the end of the calendar year for their extraordinary leadership, vision, and commitment. Their academic credentials are stellar. Their ability to champion the program internally and secure both monetary and in-kind resources in such a short time for the College extends beyond just the mentoring program. Their humanity is touching. Joseph Asaya is just the type of alumnus I love tweeting about. He is a role model for our students on so many levels, a mover and a shaker. Jeri’Ann Hiller is the type of female, scientist MIT-Ph.D. role model that I want not only our students to look up to, but also my own daughter to look up to.
The corporate social responsibility ethos at Boston Scientific is impressive. The company’s commitment to providing opportunities for under-served students, girls/women, minorities, and to provide internship opportunities outside of our formal relationship with them sets it apart as visionary. I look forward to seeing this initiative grow, even if only from a distance.
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