Attendees at Destination STEMMOver 80 mentees, mentors, parents, guardians and guests attended our second welcome event for Destination STEMM mentoring programme at the Royal Society in September.

Destination STEMM supports the Society’s commitment to increasing diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM), by identifying and addressing the barriers to participation and success in STEMM.

The Windsor Fellowship is working in partnership with the Society to deliver the mentoring programme for Year 12 Black students living or studying in Greater London. The programme provides one-to-one mentoring and aims to address the gaps in the progression of black students along the STEMM pathway.

During the year-long programme each mentee is paired with a Royal Society Research Fellow. Mentees receive a minimum of two hours of face-to-face mentoring each month. Mentees also have an opportunity to attend four workshops over the course of the year to develop key skills and competencies such as presentation, networking and goal setting.

Dr Lonnie Johnson at Destination STEMMThe Welcome Event was an opportunity to celebrate the start of an exciting journey for the mentees and mentors. We were joined by a special guest speaker, Dr Lonnie Johnson, an inventor and entrepreneur, who spoke about his experience growing up in America in the 50s and 60s during the times of civil rights movement and racial segregation.

 

Despite the challenges he faced, Dr Johnson achieved great success and in the 80s licenced his most famous invention, the Super Soaker water gun, which became the number one selling toy in America.

Mentees from the first cohort also attended the event and collected their certificates of completion for the programme. The first cohort completed the programme last month and 21 out of 23 mentees have started STEMM related undergraduate courses across the UK, of them 17 are attending a Russell Group university.

The programme has offered many opportunities for the mentees such as work experience, work shadowing and visits to various STEMM workplaces. Research Fellows value and enjoy the scheme just as much as the students, and we’re pleased that more than half of them have volunteered to be mentors again.

We invited Adetunji Adeoshun and Professor Frances Platt from the 2016 cohort to share their personal journey on Destination STEMM as a student and a mentor. Adetunji shared his experience in which his mentor encouraged him to excel. Adetunji said:

‘If you asked me last year why I applied I would have shrug my shoulders but today I know the actual answer and it’s the same reason you It is to develop yourself to step outside of what is the ordinary to you because you see in order to do and achieve something you’ve never done. You have to push yourself.’

Adetunji’s reflections were a pertinent end to the evening as the students start their new mentoring relationships to ultimately increase their science capital.