USciences DEI Council Launches BLAZE Graduate Mentorship Pilot Program
Published on October 20, 2021
USciences Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council has launched the BLAZE Graduate Mentorship Pilot Program. BLAZE supports incoming and current USciences graduate students from historically underrepresented groups. The program is designed to provide these students with the kind of inclusive mentorship that cultivates authentic relationships and focuses on a sponsorship-based model which is unlikely to be provided to underrepresented students during their academic career.
The first event hosted by BLAZE was held on October 1, 2021, featuring a discussion led by Chidinma Nwakanma, MD, assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Nwakanma spoke on the realities of being an underrepresented minority in STEM and medical fields.
The BLAZE mentors represent each college at the University and the program has a 1:1 mentor/mentee ratio. The program is managed by the newly formed BLAZE Advisory Council.
The BLAZE mentors provide emotional and personal support, academic and career guidance, write letters of recommendation, encourage mentees to go out for opportunities, and sponsor the mentee by connecting them to others in their networks. The broad intention of the program is to create an inclusive community that will set the mentees up for a successful career.
The specific goals of the program are as follows:
- To provide academic support to help raise achievement. Mentors are expected to help mentees understand that utilizing support services is a part of developing strong student success strategies and normalize academic challenges
- To increase motivation & improve confidence by offering dialogues led by industry leaders from underrepresented groups, increasing their exposure to opportunities, and teaching mentees how to compete academically and gain social capital
- To build an inclusive community that provides emotional and psychological support for poc graduate students, offering a safe space for students from underrepresented groups to help cultivate a sense of belonging for them
- Help participants grow their academic and professional networks