Eighty-one Teens Conducting Research at UConn Mentor Connection
By Janice Palmer, Office of University Communications
STORRS, Conn. -- Gene cloning, pharmaceutical drug development and an
archaeological dig are just some of the research projects teenagers will
UConn Mentor Connection, a three-week summer program placing 81 high school
juniors and seniors side-by-side with faculty and researchers at the University
The UConn Mentor Connection runs thru July 27 and is sponsored by the Neag
Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. It gives bright students
from all walks of life real-world experience in developing creative projects
and conducting investigations.
"It is our goal to fan the fire and the passion for learning among high
school students who ordinarily would not have contact with accomplished
the student's area of interest," says Jeanne Purcell, program director.
She is also the consultant for gifted and talented programs for the
"The UConn Mentor Connection is a powerful opportunity for these students,"
"It can have an incredible effect on their academic and professional life.
Research tells us that eminent people have had mentors all along the way
who changed their lives."
While students develop a collaborative and personal relationship with a
university researcher, they also learn about career options and get a
taste of college life by
living in dormitories and eating in dining halls.
The program's mission is also aimed at building self-esteem and confidence
in students who choose their area of study from 35 options. Some of the
- learning how to use gene cloning and other cutting-edge research techniques
to better understand the genetic puzzle of evolution;
- reading classic tales and watching modern movie versions to trace their
- digging up history and mystery with the state archaeologist at various
locations around Connecticut;
- learning the basics of inventing by designing multipurpose vehicles for
use on land, in the air and on the sea.
Purcell and her staff worked with school officials in Connecticut's targeted
school districts to find highly-motivated students for the program. They made a
special attempt to identify students whose talents may have been overlooked
because of socioeconomic reasons.
Nearly 60 of the students received full or partial scholarships to attend the
program. The funding is provided by a $130,000 grant from the Connecticut
Department of Education, $20,000 generated from an endowment created by UConn
trustee William Berkley, $10,000 from Fox 61 Television and $9,000 from
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