Mentor program encourages women in EMS

April 16, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE-UW-Platteville's Mentor Program has been encouraging women in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science for more than five years.

Briana Brunkow, a junior majoring in industrial engineering, became a mentor after participating in the program as a mentee last year. She oversees two mentees and there are two other mentors in her group. Brunkow heard about the program as a member of The Society of Women Engineering (SWE).

"I found that it was very rewarding experience and I wanted to share it with other people," said Brunkow. "The benefit of being a mentor is the ability to reach out to the students in lower classes. It also gives me the chance to share my engineering experiences with others. I really like being there for the girls if they have any questions or worries about school or life in general."

Brunkow, having been a mentee herself, said the benefit of being a mentee is the chance to meet other female engineering students. By being in a major that is predominantly male, it is nice to have some female friends in your class she said. The mentors are able to answer questions about making resumes, applying for co-ops and interviewing techniques.

Brunkow and her mentees have participated in a variety of activities as a mentor group. Her group gets together for weekly suppers throughout the year. These suppers give the mentees a chance to ask any questions they may have about their classes.

"We have also made very close friendships within our mentor group, so it gives us the chance to catch up on what one another has done the past week," said Brunkow. "We have also attended programs put on by campus, such as Dinner with Ms. Manners."

Examples of mentor program activities include attending athletic events, visiting a jobsite and discussions on a variety of topics.

"I would strongly encourage someone to become either a mentor or a mentee. Being a part of the mentor program gives you the chance to meet new people and to share your engineering and college experiences with each other," said Brunkow.

The mission of the mentor program is to provide the women in the College of EMS an opportunity to partner with other students who will provide friendship, guidance and support.

"The biggest accomplishment of the program is the networking and recognition that these women receive," said Tammy Salmon-Stephens, director of the UWP Women in Engineering Program and advisor to SWE.

A mentor center, located in Ottensman Hall, with a central location, is used to coordinate activities and house industry resources that students can check out and use. These resources are issues on gender equities, hands-on activities, information on technical skills and serves as an office for SWE. The area will also serve as a lounge area, and will have an area that will have up to five computer workstations as furniture and technologies become available.

"It's important to highlight that if UWP didn't support and value these programs, then we wouldn't have this comprehensive of a program. It [the program] distinguishes UWP from the rest," said Salmon-Stephens.

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