Leveraging a Valuable Resource

Posted on July 1, 2015
Group of seated awardees
NSF-EHR Assistant Director Joan Ferrini-Mundy addresses 2012-2013 PAESMEM recipients during four-day recognition activities in June. Photo Credit: NSF

PAESMEM Alumni Workshop planned for early 2016

Make plans now to spend time with PAESMEM alumni early next year. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is organizing a workshop for PAESMEM alumni to take action on the goal of increasing the nation’s STEM talent.  

“PAESMEM alumni have intellectual capital that we want to harness to help us broaden participation in STEM mentoring,” says Martha James, program director of the PAESMEM Program in the NSF Human Resource Development Division (HRD). “The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) encouraged us to involve PAESMEM alumni more because they are an underutilized resource for cultivating STEM talent.”

Past experience shows that PAESMEM alumni have much to contribute.  In 2006, a group of PAESMEM alumni convened and produced a white paper with recommendations for broadening and monitoring STEM education in the United States.  PAESMEM 2005 recipient, Joseph Gardella, a chemistry professor at University at Buffalo, SUNY, was a contributor to the white paper, Mentoring for STEM Workforce Development and Lifelong Productivity: Success Across the K through Grey Continuum.”

“Our paper made pointed recommendations for the Federal government to take a better look at integrating STEM mentorship programs. Often diversity programs are off by themselves in a silo, when they could be integrated with mentoring programs in the STEM fields within the agencies. Some agencies are doing it well, but we think it should happen across the board,” says Gardella.

Gardella says convening alumni workshops helps to re-invigorate the PAESMEM alumni and renew focus on sharing success stories among mentor colleagues across the nation.  

Lesia Crumpton-Young, a 2007 PAESMEM alumna, associate vice president of the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs and a professor of mechanical engineering at Tennessee State University in Nashville, led her peers in a workshop in April 2011. The workshop resulted in the small group identifying three strategic action steps. The actions included creating a continuous conversation about STEM mentoring; capturing scholarly knowledge within the PAESMEM alumni community; and creating an avenue for collaboration and community building among PAESMEM recipients. The alumni meeting participants encouraged the creation of PAESMEM.net as a focal point for achieving the continuous conversation and capturing PAESMEM scholarly knowledge about STEM mentoring.

Crumpton-Young says her experience facilitating that PAESMEM alumni meeting confirms its value and affirms the need for PAESMEM alumni to periodically convene to exchange information and continue critical conversations. The value of the meeting is in the intellectual exchange that occurs. Whenever you bring a group of people with a wealth of knowledge and experience together you spur an exchange of information.  From that exchange of information, new knowledge is formed and meaningful learning takes place. ” Later in December, PAESMEM alumna Carol Muller (MentorNet, 2001) convened a larger group of alumni that worked to expand on the strategic actions with an implementation plan to help achieve the overarching goal of increasing STEM mentorship nationwide. Muller is currently executive director of Stanford University’s WISE Ventures program, which supports women in science and engineering.

A date for the 2016 workshop will be posted on PAESMEM.net as soon as it is finalized.

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