A new online mentoring pilot program launched by The University of Western Australia with support from the Alcoa Foundation will see students from years 9 to 11 in the Peel region learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career opportunities.
In2Science eMentoring program, part of Aspire UWA’s program, aims to bridge gaps that exist between regional and metropolitan students and support students interested in STEM to pursue it at a tertiary level.
Mentoring programs have shown to be effective in attracting and supporting students to pursue their aspirations of a tertiary education.
Students participating in Aspire’s eMentoring were carefully selected by their schools, as having demonstrated a strong interest in STEM and either having diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, being first-in-family to consider university, or facing financial difficulties.
The program builds on a successful e-mentoring program at La Trobe University in Melbourne.
Bronwen Veale, UWA School Partnerships Coordinator, said in its first week running, the program had already seen great enthusiasm from students at the participating schools of Coondanup College, Gilmore College, Harvey Senior High School and Pinjarra Senior High School.
“UWA was keen to offer this opportunity to some of our Aspire Peel partner schools through this pilot,” she said.
“It’s a great way for high school students to engage in conversations with current university students, to discuss their aspirations and STEM interests.
“In each school we have a dedicated teacher who helps the students connect online with their mentor, and from there mentors and their student mentees work together to come up with goals and plan the topics they want to learn about.
“Being able to connect online in this way means that high school students can still meet and learn from university students, despite living away from the Perth metropolitan area.”
Nine university mentors have been paired with 17 mentees who will meet across five-weeks. The mentors will help students build their confidence and encourage them to continue their independent learning journey.
Aspire UWA mentor Vish who is studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at UWA and attended Gilmore College, said he was excited to be able to connect with students from his old school.
“I think it’s so important that regional and outer metro students have access to programs like Aspire and now this new eMentoring, to close the gap between schools in lower socio economic areas and schools in more well-off neighbourhoods,” he said.
“In my first meeting with my mentees, the students were interested in learning more about job possibilities available in their areas of interest as well as the various avenues they can take to achieve their goals.”