As both a mentor and a mentee, Georgia Tech undergraduate takes perspective on career goals and education ambition
Jun 21, 2017 | Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA
Sometimes it is homework help, college preparation, or career and life counseling that brings students into mentorship circles. For undergraduate student Juan Turcios, the idea of mentoring has resonated with him even before he enrolled at Georgia Tech.
At the suggestion of his physics teacher, Turcios joined the GoSTEM cohort as a junior at Meadowcreek High School. GoSTEM, a collaborative initiative spearheaded by Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC), focuses on expanding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education resources for the Latino community at Gwinnett County Public School District.
Through GoSTEM, Turcios received a mentor who encouraged him to work hard in his classes and aim to enroll in college after graduating high school. “Growing up, I didn’t have long-term goals,” he said, “but my mentor walked me through my college and scholarship applications.”
Turcios kept pace with his studies, ultimately replacing his time on the soccer field with time in the library. His hard work paid off, and he enrolled in Kennesaw State University in 2013 before transferring to Georgia Tech in 2016. And with the transition from high school to college, the transition from mentee to mentor became his next step. To date, Turcios has tutored over fifteen middle and high school students as a GoSTEM mentee.
Throughout the whole process, he has worked with students with talent, intelligence, and stellar grades. However, a lack of ambition or motivation can keep even the best of students from reaching their potential. “Some students have the grades but have no drive. Others do not know how to use their tools,” Turcios said.
However, he hopes that providing high school students with mentors will provide a breadth of reality to accessing higher education and a range of career options. “If students see someone they can relate to perform well in classes and go the extra mile, maybe they will believe that they can too,” he says.
When asked about the most difficult aspects of mentoring, he mentions of times when a lack of documentation drives a student away from desiring a higher education. But these situations do not stop him from trying to provide the best advice and help he can give. Turcios believes that mentors are more than marathon members who pass the baton. Rather, he hopes that the students he has mentored will surpass his achievements, which are many. He is a currently a member of the Georgia Tech Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He had previously served as secretary for the SHPE chapter at Kennesaw State.
Looking forward to the summer, Turcios’ future plans include an internship at Carrier Transicold in Athens, Georgia. This will be his third internship with the company, where he will focus on product engineering. Even though he does not plan on graduating until next year, he already has set his sights on furthering his education by pursuing an MBA or Masters.
As he advances in his career path, Turcios states that he still has mentors who encourage him and provide him advice. Developing these relationships while continuing to coach his students has allowed him to be on both sides of unique relationships that can last a lifetime.
By Sabiha Runa - CEISMC Communications
Translated by Marc de Cea Falco and Analia Rao