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Mentoring for Students/Mentees

If you are a UNM undergraduate student, apply here.


SEMESTERLY DEADLINES: February 5 and September 5.

Matches will be announced by the following Wednesday.



"The mentorship program is really helping me see that engineering can be for someone like me." - Daisy Belmares-Ortega


Join us for our (More info HERE):

  • STEM Mixer (generally the 1st Friday after matching)
  • STEM Celebration (generally the final Friday before finals)


There are numerous benefits to having a mentor. These include, but are not limited to: one-on-one guidance, knowledge, and experience, professional communication and growth, networking, setting measurable goals, motivation, and insight.
Read about some UNM Mentor-Mentee pairs through the STEM Gateway Blog posts "Two-Sides of the Same Coint: Mentor-Mentee relationships" (
Additional resources for mentees (and co-mentors): UNM's Mentoring Institute
Mentors are often from engineering, computer science, and physics backgrounds. Occasionally, we have mentors from math, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and Earth & Planetary science backgrounds. 
We NEVER have medical professionals serving as mentors. Freshmen and sophomores who are interested in health science can still sign up for a mentor, as early-level students can still gain something from mentors outside of health science. Juniors and seniors would benefit more from mentors within their field. So, juniors and seniors interested in health science may not be matched with a mentor. If you would like to build relationships with a health professional or explore health-related careers, visit the Office for Pre-Health Professions at, or the HSC Office of Diversity Programs at
The program recruits UNM undergraduate students on a rolling basis. To join the program, students must complete an orientation session and short interest form. Students will not be introduced to a mentor until both items are completed.
Undergraduate student orientation session. Various orientation dates are available. Sign up for a student orientation when you complete your interest form (linked above). If you cannot attend one of the scheduled orientation sessions, but would still like to join the program, contact Yadéeh Sawyer at To speed up scheduling your orientation session, please provide 2-3 times, Monday-Friday, between 9 AM and 3 PM, that work for your schedule in this email.
Undergraduate student interest form. Complete the student interest form linked at the top of this page.
Mentors and mentees meet for about an hour a week (preferably an in-person meeting). Meeting times and activities are arranged by the mentors and mentees. Mentorships last approximately a semester, unless both mentor and mentee wish to extend the partnership.
Students are encouraged to work with their mentor on a long-term goal, such as exploring different college majors or STEM fields, applying for internships, getting involved in research, meeting other scientists and engineers, and more.
Engineering Student Success Center (ESS) staff help students identify a goal to work on during orientation. Then, students and their mentors determine which weekly mentoring activities will help students’ achieve their goal(s). A typical activity includes talking over coffee or touring the mentor’s workplace. Meeting times and activities are arranged by the mentors and mentees.
ESS provides support, including check-in emails and optional activities throughout the year. Information on other mentoring program activities, such as laboratory tours and networking mixers will be emailed out.
Students must be a US citizen to be matched with a mentor from Air Force Research Laboratory or Sandia National Laboratories. If you are not a US Citizen, you can be matched with mentors from other organizations.
The Air Force Research Laboratory and many of Sandia’s buildings are located on Kirtland Air Force Base, which is considered federal property. Any student interested in visiting AFRL or SNL with the STEM Collaborative must produce proof of U.S. citizenship at least one month prior to the scheduled visit. Further directions regarding base access are provided closer to the scheduled tour dates.
For more information, contact Yadéeh Sawyer at or Nada Abdelhack at
Please see "Mentoring Program - Documents" for supporting (orientation) materials.
We asked our mentors: What is something you learned in undergrad that you want to share with the students? And this is what they said:
General Advice
  • Always periodically check the environment you are operating in as it changes and assumptions made based on previous checks may no longer be valid.
  • Don't dwell on bad grades or compare yourself to others, seek help and focus on improving yourself.
  • I learned in graduate school - how to evaluate what is important to me, what can bring me happiness in work, and how to develop myself as a good citizen outside of work.
  • I learned that there's often multiple ways to solve the same problem.
  • In undergrad school I learned that even if you are behind the rest of your class, you can rise to the top if you work hard enough.
  • It only take one thing to trigger one's interest and take it to his/her career. I was interested in the flow field over a baseball that motivate me into aerospace engineering.
  • It's okay to take your own path and advance your career on your own timeline.
  • Nothing is more important than doing your best. If you excel academically, you will gain confidence in your abilities and you will know your limits. If you don't excel, you will know you gave it your best effort, and perhaps you will even find a new or better fit for your talent. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and part of succeeding is knowing what these are and knowing what we are good at and what we are not.
  • Set goals and work hard, but don't forget to have a little fun along the way.
  • The realizationwhere I personally stand in the wide spectrum of human ability, higher than I thought.
  • You need desire to reach your goal - you need passion to excel at it - never quit in the middle - never give up - You have the ability to overcome any obstacle - Believe in yourself - I have reached beyond my goals overcoming comprehension disability my whole life.
Build Your Network
  • In undergrad I was somewhat lackadaisical about forming relationships with my peers and others I related to. Since graduating I have learned just how important relationships are for success in one's career. Because of this I would urge everyone in school to put extra effort into developing good relationships with all your peers, professors, and people you meet in industry. These people will become your colleagues and bosses, know your future colleagues and bosses, or at the very least be able to provide you with references for future jobs.
  • Join study groups and student organizations. It's extremely difficult to get through an undergraduate degree alone.
  • Networking is extremely important, it can open doors that you never knew existed and help you to find something you are passionate about. Also, find something you enjoy doing. Life is much better when you are excited to go to work.
  • Start networking and searching for a career at least a year before you a graduate.
  • The relationships you build with professors and fellow students are just as important as the engineering principles you learn. Many things I have earned in my career have come from networking and I still interact with my undergraduate friends professionally over a decade later.
Change is OK!
  • I realized about halfway through college that although I was an electrical engineering major, I enjoyed the physics side of EE much better than its other aspects. However, I couldn't switch majors since my scholarship was tied into the College of Engineering, so I took as many elective physics classes as I could. I ended up majoring in EE again in graduate school since MIT didn't offer an applied physics program, but again my research and coursework was physics-focused. Finally, upon starting at LANL as a postdoc, I was able to focus completely on physics, and haven't looked back since; I never take for granted the fact that I get paid to spend most of my time doing something I really enjoy. The lesson is that it's never too late to figure out what you really enjoy and find a way to make a career out of it.
  • One thing I learned, is that if you are not happy with your current career path, there is always opportunity to change, and not only change, but become successful in your new path. I studied Spanish for my undergraduate degree, and while I found it interesting, I knew science and engineering were really the fields I needed to expand into.  I was able to go back to school and eventually obtain my PhD in Materials Engineering, and am now happy with my career in this field.
  • There are many instances such as learning that hard work does eventually pay off or why I eventually chose to study materials science or how open houses in different departments helped me learn about whether I might like one engineering field over another.
  • As an undergrad, I was told by one of my first engineering professors during freshman year that a good designer will, on day 1 at a new job, go down to the manufacturing or fabrication floor and get to know the technicians who will ultimately be responsible for building his or her designs. They have loads of key practical experience in how engineered objects or systems should be efficiently designed, and the best engineers will always learn from the techs, never thinking of themselves as "better" or something because of an advanced degree. This concept has served me well through my entire career, and the welders, assemblers, and gearheads have taught me tons.
  • Grades are key to getting internships. Internships are key to getting job offers.
  • I think that all undergraduate students should try to get an internship or Coop in the field they are majoring in prior to graduation in order to get a feel for what working in that area of expertise can entail in a real-world work environment.
  • That having internships are crucial to getting a job after your degree.
Supportive Skills/Professional Development
  • In almost every field and company I've worked in, communication and writing have been as important, if not more important than, my technical skills. Spending time in your education on writing and presenting really pays off when it gets you a much larger ability to influence technical decisions.
  • In many technical projects, project management has a bigger impact on the success or failure of the project than the technical skills involved.
  • Interests can change rapidly, but try to beware of your long-term goals and make an effort to define them early
  • Persistence pays off. There were so many moments in which I was unsure whether I would be able to succeed: learning a new concept, finding a research project, debugging some code, and countless others, many of which have since leaked from my memory. In each of those cases, persistence led me through the confusion or helped me find an alternative way around. STEM disciplines are uniquely challenging in that the textbooks seem to insist that there is one "truth or reality". In fact, there are many ways to solve a problem, and this is one of the most valuable lessons that persistence has taught me.
  • Thing big and think deep. Most of the real-world problems are multi-disciplinary where you need the help of others. Learn how to work with others. Learn how to learn from others. Learn how to weave together to achieve a bigger goal. The habit of lifelong learning is crucial between success and failure in professional life.
  • Undergrad engineering/STEM education is a collection of "solved equations"; there are exponentially more "unsolved equations" out there that don't have a unique formula to apply. Instead of focusing on memorizing the equations, focus on building intuition around the equations and understanding the trade space the equations are teaching you about. This will result in more lasting knowledge and more transferable skills to a career.
Take Advantage of Opportunities
  • During my undergraduate years, I did not have a role model or mentor to help me make smarter decisions about my future. I believe that if I worked with a mentor I could have learned of opportunities that would have enhanced my undergraduate experience and better prepare me for my career.
  • I only found out later on that there were lots of opportunities for undergraduate research, both during the school year and over the summer, and I wish I had known and been able to take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Keep an open mind and don't pass up opportunities. I've participated in a lot of research that I found boring or just not an area I was excited about - I still learned a lot from those experiences!
  • The most important thing I learnt was to ask. Many opportunities come when you ask for them.
The Importance of Time Management
  • I learned that time management is very important. Keeping on top of assignments is one of the keys to success in school.  Also, organizational and leadership skills are important, as many jobs today require you to work with others as a team on large projects, so having good interpersonal skills and being able to effectively delegate work is important as well.   
  • I worked and supported myself while completing my BS. I learned to balance work, classes and time to study with the goal of getting the best grades possible.  Note, "free" time wasn't part of this balance.  It comes down to making some trade-offs to achieve your goals and knowing you might not get everything you want.
  • I would say the key to success more than anything, and it is probably been said many times, but bears repeating is time management. My take and advice on developing or strengthening time management is making a daily and weekly schedule and adhering to it as much as possible, and getting work done before moving on to more enjoyable activities. Also I suggest prioritizing assignments in a weighted order that accounts for both soonest deadline and scale of work. The reason for this is it is always better to get started on lengthy and/or difficult tasks as soon as possible and clear the work load so these can be focused on. It also helps to develop a work plan and adhere to it for more lengthy and difficult tasks (like term papers or lab reports) by setting milestones and scheduled time on certain days to work on it. These same habits are also helpful in a career.
  • Time management is one of the most important things to learn.
Undergraduate life
  • Be cautious about undertaking too many credit hours in a single semester.
  • I think it's OK to take on too much at once, as long as you feel you're equipped handle it. I caught some heat as an undergrad for walking through every open door, whether that meant a different internship each summer or studying abroad in my senior year. But I'm grateful to have had such diversified experiences so that I can focus down in grad school knowing I'm doing my favorite thing.
  • Most people are winging it (students and professionals), and it's normal to feel like you don't really belong there despite being qualified (imposter syndrome). Success in undergrad can come mainly from being able to learn quickly and effectively while also being able to recognize when you need help. Asking for help doesn't always mean you've failed - it just means you've found one more new thing to learn!
  • Read your textbook!
  • Setting good study habits is key. For example: study for 2-3 hours each night Mon-Thur. Take Fri night and Saturday off. Then study 3-4 hours on Sunday. Ensure you put in the consistent effort to own the material and really know it, rather than cramming the night before. If you want to study with a friend, find the top student in the class, not someone who goofs off and doesn't have good study habits. If someone is difficult, put more effort into it and turn that weakness into a strength. Seek help from Professors, teaching assistants, tutors, or mentors to become excellent at what you do.
  • Study/life balance, good study habits.
  • The best advice that I can give is attend class, take notes, read the course book, and do homework with your peers. Grades don't matter as long as you learn, understand, and can apply engineering principles in your projects.
  • You are responsible for your education, not your professor.