Trainee Inspires the Next Generation of Native American Scientists

Lydia Jennings, a University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) Training Core Fellow, began serving as a mentor in the UA’s Native SOAR* program in 2015. SOAR, or Student Outreach, Access, and Resiliency, is a service-learning program developed to improve college aspirations, preparedness, and success among Native American high school and undergraduate students. The program depends on near-peer mentoring – Native American students in college and in graduate school mentor Native American students in high school and in college, respectively.

Jennings, a graduate student in the laboratory of UA SRP Director Raina Maier, is serving as a mentor to an undergraduate student majoring in Physiology and Anatomy. The pair meets once a month to discuss topics such as professionalism, how to network, graduate school, academics and life circumstances.

“Working with the Native SOAR Program is an opportunity to pay forward the professional knowledge and skills that I have acquired throughout my career. It is exciting to help undergraduate students navigate the university atmosphere, become role models through their mentorship experiences, and watch them blossom into professionals” says Jennings. “My experience in the Native SOAR program also allows me to further develop my own mentorship skills, reinforce my motivation in academia, and increase the visibility of American Indian scholars in higher education.” Jennings plans to continue on with the mentorship program in the 2015-2016 academic year.

*Click here for a video about the program.