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Reaching out to Top-Notch Mentors

Developing a program from scratch begins with a rudimentary idea and lot of preparation. And organization. And if there is one thing I am good at, it's staying organized. As a research associate in biomedical research, I have designed, developed, and executed over 30 projects in the last 1.5 years. I have 3 to-do lists, if that puts my job into perspective.

Over the last month I have been brainstorming how I want this program to be developed. Initially it started small- a few mentors, some speakers and 5-10 kids. But I am starting to realize that this is going to be a much bigger deal. And it needs to be a bigger deal.

My initial thoughts were that I wanted to start with a few kids to participate in robotics competitions and the Ames NASA Space Settlement Competition. I would have a couple STEM professionals speak to the kids about being in a STEM career, what they do on a daily basis, their likes and dislikes, how to pursue such professions, and other professions they can pursue with their education and experience. Other professionals would come and help the students learn and compete in the various competitions. And, further down the line, I would pair up students with a mentor in the profession of their interest to shadow and gain further career experience.

I also wanted to develop the Youth Entrepreneurship Progrm on the side. Initially, this program wouldn't be a priority and would develop later down the line. It would involve helping students design and develop innovative ideas that would grow into businesses. Local entrepreneurs would come and talk to the students about developing ideas, starting a business plan and budget, protecting their ideas with documentation and patenting, and accruing funding for their ventures. But this program wold take more time, so I decided to concentrate on the STEM Youth Career Development Program first. With these ideas in mind, I set out to connect with my closest contacts and potential STEM mentors. I reached out to fellow MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) alumni- my classmates that I have randomly kept in touch with over the years. Happily, they were more than willing to help:

Sebas Castro, a mechanical engineer and prominent entrepreneur in his own right, helped start Kushki and Alpha4 Ventures- "Happy to help in any way."
Silverio Garcia, Jr., a mechanical engineer at Northrop Grumman, "You can count on me."
Rodrigo Luna, an electrical engineer at Parker Aerospace, Cameron Haag, an aerospace engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Martin Pietraszkiewicz, an aerospace engineer at Northrop Grumman, were all supportive of my endeavors.

With the support of my colleagues, I knew that this could be something. So I started to develop my website and the gofundme page. With the need to purchase supplies for the various robotics and NASA competitions, I knew that funding would be an important hurdle in developing my programs. Everything became much more real. With the program advertisement, I couldn't hide behind my ideas and words anymore. Now I had to turn thoughts into actions. I had to make something of my dreams, turn them into reality. Now would come the real work!

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