A quick exchange of knowledge

It’s noon on a summer Tuesday and students are sitting around a small table in the Erb Memorial Union talking about the college experience. 

A voice yells out “stop!” The students jot down a note, and then move to the next table. A few dozen students do this same thing seven or eight more times over the course of the hour.

Speed dating?  No, speed mentoring.

Oregon Young Scholars Program (OYSP) talked with older students in the Summer Pr

Students from the Oregon Young Scholars Program (OYSP) spent a precious few minutes with an undergraduate student from the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) talking about how to manage college, what it was like to be a new student on campus, and anything else that could be asked and answered in 5 minutes or less.

“It was pretty interesting,” said Edith Dominguez a freshman at Portland’s Roosevelt High School. “I got to ask college students about their first impressions of campus.  They told me it was kind of scary at first, but they got used to it quickly and liked what they were learning in their classes.”

The speed mentoring program is one of the innovations brought to this summer’s OYSP schedule by Divya Bheda, a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity

Bheda has helped to coordinate the Oregon Young Scholars, a group of 53 high school students from the Eugene and Portland areas who will spend a week living in the UO dorms and attending classes in subjects ranging from Swahili to music, from history to journalism. 

Oregon Young Scholars Program (OYSP) talked with older students in the Summer Pr

The Young Scholars spent an afternoon participating in a resources hunt in the Knight Library, and also will learn about business etiquette to prepare for a dinner event with local business and political leaders.

Wanting to give the young scholars an opportunity to speak with students studying science, Bheda approached associate professor of Biology and Director of SPUR Peter O’Day, and asked whether students from his program might spare a few minutes to give advice to the OYSP students. 

SPUR students come from all over the country to spend the summer doing scientific research in a lab on campus. They are matched with a professor whose research interests match their own, and assigned a graduate student mentor who helps them navigate the lab and gives them advice about keys to graduate school success. 

The SPUR students agreed to “pay forward” the mentoring they’d been receiving from the grad student mentors and share their experiences with the OYSP students. The “speed mentoring” format was designed to give maximum exposure to a variety of ideas and advice.

“It was wonderful,” Bheda said. “I am not sure who enjoyed it more, the high school students or the mentors.  And the format did exactly what we hoped it would do – spark the conversations that could be continued later in the week.”

-- Rita Radostitz