Two years ago graduate students from Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE), a student group on campus, reached out to a focus group for women in science that Cheryl Rowe-Rendleman ’81 was involved with to discuss issues that women in science face.
Eventually, the discussions honed in on mentoring, and with Rowe-Rendleman’s help, GWISE developed a mentoring program involving alumni. They kicked off the program in September 2011. She helped GWISE reach out to alumni and think about how to make a “vertical-mentoring program” sustainable.
Some 100 individuals now are involved in the program; in each of about 18 small groups are an undergraduate, graduate student, postdoc, alumna, and faculty member. The students get advice on everything from academics to how to navigate a job search and share their insights with faculty and alumni. “They mentor one another,” says Rowe-Rendleman, who has a doctorate in biochemical and biophysical sciences and owns OMAR, a consulting company in Princeton Junction, N.J. When one of her mentees was exploring the biomedical field after earning her doctorate, Rowe-Rendleman made connections for her with colleagues.
The mentoring program, says Rowe-Rendelman, is in its “infancy,” and she is aiming to learn what’s working well and what’s not. “We want to see if we can get a grassroots kind of energy behind it,” she says. “We know that there’s a need.”