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Building Beyond the Wall: PEER Mentors

December 11, 2020

Maegan Hinson, College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
December 11, 2020

PEER mentors are Clemson upperclassmen who are focused on leadership and inspiring younger students as they work towards a degree in engineering or computer science. These mentors know the importance of sharing their experience with the next generation of students, especially those that would not otherwise hear about STEM careers. Throughout the year, the PEER & WISE office sponsors multiple outreach events and activities. This year’s events have looked much different, due to COVID, but that has not stopped our mentors from being involved and getting the word out about engineering.

Six PEER mentors spent two Saturdays this fall leading a group of young men in STEM activities via Zoom. These young men were from a group called Building Beyond the Wall, an initiative started by a former educator who saw the need for mentorship beyond the walls of traditional structures.

Angela Wright says of her program, “Our mission is to develop leaders in the community through mindset, motivation and mentorship using science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).”

During these Saturday events, the PEER mentors led the students in video activities produced by the EXPLORE Mobile Lab. In the first activity, students built a bridge out of popsicle sticks and tested its stability. The second activity introduced students to nuclear engineering and the basic chemistry behind it. The goal of these activities was to make connections to the students and their interests, showing them the importance of math and science.  The mentors wanted to share their passion for engineering and inspire others like them to set high expectations for themselves.

On his motivation behind participating in outreach events, PEER mentor Kwajo Boateng said, “Outreach is so vital to me because it gives me the opportunity to impact students who look like me. Allowing them to participate in STEM activities that utilize real problem-solving skills is my way of planting a seed that will hopefully propel them toward success.”

Tyler Turman, another PEER mentor, also weighed in on his motivation to promote STEM. He said, “Participating in events like these helps break the mold for what a scientist looks like. It promotes diversity and inspires students to become anything they want!”

Angela Wright said of the PEER mentors, “They are definitely an exceptional group of young men. We had a great time together. The mentees really enjoyed talking to them. They have made connections with the mentees and offered amazing advice with each encounter.”

Because of the passion for outreach shown by the PEER mentors, these younger students see the possibilities that go along with a degree in STEM.