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UConn's Mentor Connection Program Provides Real World Experience to High School Students

Released: August 13, 2009

Release # 09097

Jessica Marciniak, Communications Assistant, (860) 486-0878
Colin Poitras, Communications Associate, (860) 486-4656

STORRS, CT — Eighty-one high school students from across the nation seized the opportunity to develop professional skills at the University of Connecticut's 2009 Mentor Connection program: Bright Ideas.

The UConn Mentor Connection program, offered annually by The NEAG Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development in the UConn School of Education, is a summer program for talented teens that submerges participants into campus and professional life for three weeks.

During these three weeks students reside on campus: living in a dorm and eating at one of the campus dining halls. When participants are not working on professional projects, they have opportunities to attend presentations which cover topics such as college applications and career planning, as well as planned activities lead by their community leader. On Saturdays, the students are given a break from campus life while they join the staff on a getaway day.

This year's program boasted the largest number of participants, each of whom took part in one of the 29 sites offered across a variety of disciplines. Ranging from Puppetry and English to Engineering and Biology, site options this year included UConn's first opportunity to learn skills in the School of Nursing. Students spent 6-8 hours each day working on their respective project, which they then presented on Friday July, 31 in the Student Union Ballroom.

For its debut, the Nursing site offered a separate station for each of the three participants. One student spent time at the UConn Health Center assisting Associate Professor Deborah McDonald with a study she is conducting that focuses on pain communication. A second student participated in a diabetes education program. A third student concentrated on the role of Omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of postpartum depression.

"This was a wonderful opportunity for students who are considering a career in nursing to explore the range of options available to nursing professionals." says Assistant Professor in Residence Michelle Judge, "The students who were matched to our site all reported a heightened interest in pursuing nursing as a major upon entry to college."


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