Five Fairfield County high school students interested in pursuing science and technology careers will have the opportunity to attend the UConn Mentor Connection program this summer, thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation.
Coming from Bridgeport, Trumbull, Shelton and New Canaan, the scholarship recipients will spend three weeks in July living at UConn’s Storrs’ campus and working closely with faculty mentors in their areas of interest.
“Mentor Connection has a remarkable record of helping high potential/low-income students pursue their dreams of matriculation to four-year colleges and universities,” said Joseph Renzulli, Ph.D., director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, which oversees the program. “We are grateful for the support provided by the Fairfield County Community Foundation, which will help change the lives of young people as they pursue their dreams and progress along their paths to higher education.”
During the program, participants take on the role of scholar and practitioner by working on real, ongoing projects at the university. They also get a taste of college life by living in dorms, eating in dining halls and getting to know other talented, motivated students from around the state and across the country.
Founded in 1996, UConn Mentor Connection accepts talented rising high school juniors and seniors and matches them with university faculty or advanced graduate students who mentor the students for three weeks as they participate on research teams.
“Our young people must be exposed to exciting, emerging careers,” said Juanita James, president and CEO of the Fairfield County Community Foundation. “UConn’s Mentor Connection program immerses students in the actual work and college life that helps them experience what their futures could be.”
Of the five 2014 scholarship recipients, Brianna Collins from Shelton High School will work in Dr. Deborah Fein’s Psychology lab on a project related to understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Destiny Colorado from Bridge Academy in Bridgeport, Isabel Marshall from New Canaan High School, and Demi Rodriguez from Central Magnet High School in Bridgeport will work with Tim Hunter on projects being developed in the Digital Media and Design Center.
Benjamin Vu from Trumbull High School will work with Dr. Robin Bogner on a project focused on developing pharmaceutics.
More than 70 students from Connecticut and six other states will participate in this summer’s program, working with mentors in 24 different areas across the university. Each year, the program strives to provide scholarship support from a variety of sources for students to attend, ensuring that no student’s financial circumstance prevents participation.
“When students complete the 18-day experience, they return to school in the fall intellectually and creatively energized by their time spent on the University of Connecticut campus,” said George Moran, guidance counselor at Central Magnet High School.
One of the program’s past participants, now a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, recently described the program’s influence as igniting a “lifelong spirit of discovery.”
The Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes the growth of community and regional philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Foundation also provides philanthropic advisory services and develops and leads initiatives to tackle critical community issues. It is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards for community foundations. The Foundation has awarded more than $168 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.