Jan 16, 2020 · 6 min read

Celebrating National Mentoring Month & the Impact of Mentorship

Woman (left) and man (right) sitting on a couch talking
Madison Dunitz and Abel Regalado talk about the benefits of mentoring. Photo by CZI.

In 2002, MENTOR, Harvard School of Public Health, and the Corporation for National and Community Service launched its first-ever National Mentoring Month campaign in January to promote youth mentoring. Since then, it’s become an annual celebration of mentors, mentees, and the impact of mentorship. 

At the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, there’s no shortage of mentorship opportunities. Think code pairing, speed networking, and access to leaders in tech, philanthropy, science, education, and criminal justice, among others. We also build tech tools that promote mentorship in schools and partner with organizations that offer mentoring programs. 

Learn more about how we support mentorship inside and outside of CZI.

Madison Dunitz is a software engineer on the Science initiative. Photo by CZI.

A Mentor’s Perspective

Madison Dunitz, Software Engineer, Science

“I’ve always been on the lookout for good mentors, but it never occurred to me that I could be one, too,” Madison Dunitz said in a recent interview about the value of mentorship. One of Madison’s former colleagues encouraged her to share her experience and expertise with others as a mentor at CZI. Since then, she’s been deeply involved in creating mentorship opportunities through the Women’s Impact Network (WIN) employee resource group and within science tech. This has given her great reason to connect with others and talk to some of the impressive leaders who work here. 

One of her more memorable mentorship moments was with Group Product Manager, Science, T.J. Chen. Before the meeting, Madison was asked to write down all of the things she was currently doing or trying to do. Turns out, the list was lengthy. “While going through the list item by item, she pointed out that I needed to get better at closing things out and communicating that they were done in order to move on to other things more efficiently,” Madison said. This invaluable exercise helped her to refocus and better prioritize her workload.

Beyond this, Madison and Princess Lewis (Executive Assistant, Education and Technology) hosted two speed networking events that sparked new, ongoing mentorship relationships. The event was so successful that employees can expect the next one to occur on January 31, 2020 at 801 Jefferson.

Abel Regalado is a software engineer on the Education initiative. Photo by CZI.

A Mentee’s Perspective

Abel Regalado, Software Engineer, Product Frontiers, Education

Undoubtedly, JR Arimboanga, my first mentor in high school, had a dramatic impact on my life,” Abel Regalado said as he reflected on his first experience with mentorship. “I would have run the risk of falling down a wrong path and would have not found a passion for coding and computer science while in high school.” Abel developed several mentor relationships in his life, including one with Daniel Adeyanju, who he met at a speed mentorship event via Students Rising Above, a college preparation and support program. 

At the time, Daniel was a software engineer in San Francisco, and Abel was interested in learning more about his life as a software engineer of color in the San Francisco technology industry. While Abel got a glimpse into his day-to-day life, he also found someone who he could look up to and aspire to be. “Meeting Daniel and being mentored by him helped me envision where I could be in a few years,” Abel said. “He was the first software engineer of color in my community that I knew, and through that relationship, I realized that I had so much potential and could break down systemic barriers that prevented many others from attempting or envisioning what I had in mind.”

Abel credits JR and Daniel for inspiring him to one day seek out mentees of his own. Whether they’re Latinx engineers taking their first steps at breaking into the tech industry or young people in high school or college seeking guidance, he hopes to be in a position to guide, mentor, and influence the lives of many others. Abel’s parting words: “Your mentorship can change someone’s life forever — and even your own.”

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

Education: Summit Learning Program Mentorship

The Summit Learning Program fosters richer, more meaningful relationships between teachers and students and students and their peers. We believe that technology can play a role in enhancing the quality of student-teacher interactions.

Weekly one-on-one meetings between a student and a mentor are a core component of the Summit Program. During this time, they set weekly goals and track both personal and academic progress. According to Summit Learning, “these sessions give students a deeper connection with a teacher and provide a safe space for students to go for support, academic, or otherwise. Mentors help students find motivation after a setback, refine their goals, and connect their experiences at school with opportunities beyond graduation.” In addition, each session is designed to encourage students to reflect on what worked and what didn’t from the previous week as well as practice important learning skills.

Justice & Opportunity: Bay Area Housing Internship Program

Everyone deserves a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. In the Bay Area, this is becoming increasingly more difficult. CZI helped to launch the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California’s (NPH) Bay Area Housing Internship Program in 2018. 

Through the internship program, Bay Area college students receive a one-year paid internship at a local affordable housing organization. It works to create a clear pathway into the affordable housing project management field for young people of color, immigrants, first-generation university students, and others who come from low-income communities and who demonstrate a commitment to improving the quality of life for marginalized families. By engaging and mentoring young leaders from diverse backgrounds, we can help foster a new generation of experts to boldly challenge the status quo.

Science: The Imaging Scientists Program

We believe that improving microscopy technology will accelerate efforts to cure, prevent, or manage all disease by the end of the century. That said, there are three big challenges that face the microscopy field: Many new microscopes require special expertise to assemble and operate; new imaging innovations spread slowly throughout the scientific community; and the biological community struggles with visualizing, analyzing, storing, and sharing the large volumes of imaging data that modern microscopy can generate. 

In response, we created two new programs to address these issues. Our Imaging Software Fellows Program directly supports developers of open source software for microscopy, and our Imaging Scientists Program supports technical staff within 17 microscopy core facilities in the U.S. 

The expertise of these scientists ranges between hardware and software, but all share a passion for dissemination and teaching the next generation of scientists. Together, these two programs aim to create a community of experts who will interact with experimental biologists and with CZI to accelerate biomedicine through improvements in hardware and software used for microscopy.

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