LIFE STEM is unique in that it offers direct faculty mentoring for each scholar, which is an aspect of the program that I absolutely love. My first year being mentored by Dr. Donnelly was an excellent and beneficial experience that was key as I was adjusting to college life.
At first, I was nervous to have a mentor who was not a professor in my major, but I found that Dr. Donnelly was a perfect match for me. It was simple getting to know each other at our weekly meetings because our personalities are so compatible. We quickly bonded over our coffee addiction, so we started a tradition where we would drink coffee together at every meeting. In the beginning, I felt comfortable in adjusting to college life and getting involved on my own, so I utilized her mentorship in other ways. Dr. Donnelly was there to listen to me vent about any frustrations that occured. If I needed help finding resources to be successful in a class or needed guidance on how to deal with roommate or friend problems, she always provided useful strategies for me to implement. While our conversations were being recorded and analyzed, I still felt like I could still talk to her about all aspects of my life. I also really loved learning things about her, such as her college experiences and stories about her family. We also both enjoy health and fitness, so we bonded over our health journeys together.
After my first year, I felt immensely grateful that LIFE STEM offers this rare opportunity to have a meaningful connection with a professor that typically does not develop for students until later in their academic career. I believe that the LIFE STEM mentorship only works depending on what students are willing to put into it, and I feel like I put in the effort with my mentor in order to get the successful results that I had gotten. Having a mentor kept me focused during my freshman year and it made me feel like I was cared for and that my success mattered to someone. I was so happy to have a personalized support system available to me, which assured me that Longwood was where I belong.