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Past and Future REAL Scholars Engage and Network with Mentors

May event prepared new scholars for summer work and projects

May event prepared new scholars for summer work and projects

By Riley O'Connell '19

How do students in the REAL program make the most of their experiences? That was the topic of a May 22 panel made up of former REAL students Talia Menezes ‘19 (Neuroscience), Leslie Giglio ‘19 (Public Health and Spanish Studies), David Traver ‘19 (Biology and Neuroscience), and Noel del Toro ‘21 (Anthropology and Neuroscience). Drawing from their projects during the summer of 2018, these four students shared their advice with the 2019 scholars in order to help them prepare for what’s ahead.

“The REAL program...allow[ed] me to branch out into a new field that I had not experienced before,” del Toro told the new scholars. Her project, entitled “The Study of Tropical Biology and Primate Behavior in Costa Rica,” sent her to Costa Rica to complete field research on the foraging and manipulative techniques of white-faced capuchin monkeys. “This program is amazing, and I promise you will end the summer having learned something incredible about yourself and the work you will be doing,” she continued.

Giglio, another panelist, also traveled out of the country to the Gambia in order to complete work with the Global Fellows program at Starfish International. Menezes and Traver studied the toll of NLGN 2 in neurodevelopment and the effect of neuroligin on inhibitory synapse formation, respectively, in the Laura Cocas Lab on campus.

Following the panel, incoming REAL scholars had the opportunity to network with industry professionals.

Daniel Iritani, director of external relations for the College of Arts and Sciences, compared the mentorship portion of the event to “networking speed dating,” in which the 35 mentors could engage with the 80+ students in attendance throughout the evening. The goal of the entire exercise was for the mentors to “provide feedback to [students] on how they engage,” from handshakes, to introductions, to summarizing their interests, and more, in order to prepare students for their summer internships and “get the most out of their experience.”

Students attending the event appreciated the opportunity to practice their networking skills and look forward to refining them at future events. “They all wished they did some things better,” says Katy Korsmeyer, director of special projects in the College of Arts and Sciences, “so we’ll have more skills development throughout the summer in REAL clinics.” As far as the mentors go, “they loved the chance to help our students and are eager to do more.”

REAL, student story