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Through mentorships, Rouse Scholars get on the right career path

Del. Vanessa Atterbeary and Rouse Scholar Sarah Ahmed at HCC.

As a junior in high school, Sarah Ahmed helped campaign for Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a District 13 Democrat. So when it came to picking a mentor for HCC’s Rouse Scholars mentorship program in January, she knew just who to contact.

Most students in the program are paired through the school’s mentor liaisons.  Sarah, now a first-year Rouse Scholar, picked up her cell phone and sent a text message.

Without hesitation, Del. Atterbeary responded that she’d love to be Sarah’s mentor.

Sarah is one of 28 Rouse Scholar freshmen who were paired up with mentors earlier this year to help identify her passions through career exploration.

“We really work to find that passion and give them a reality check,” said Laura McHugh, Rouse Scholars Freshman Coordinator. “The students find it to be one of the highlights of their two-year experience in the Rouse program at HCC.”

After being paired with a mentor, students are required to spend a minimum of five hours with them. Many do more. Then, they put on a presentation where they describe their experience and talk about how it has changed their career direction.

“It’s just as important to find out that a career interest is not exactly what you’re looking for so that you don’t waste  time doing something that, in the end, would not be rewarding for you,” McHugh said.

For Sarah, the experience made her question a career in politics. Instead, it furthered her interest in law.

Through the mentorship, Sarah learned how intricate passing legislation can be.

“The law is more than meets the eye,” she said. “It’s a very intricate process with a lot of work involved.”

Sarah now wants to advocate for people who might not have a voice. She’s considering being a prosecutor or defense attorney.

Del. Atterbeary, who attended Sarah’s presentation on April 21, said she enjoyed being a mentor.

“Sarah has a great personality,” she said. “She’s good at working with people and very smart. I hope it was beneficial to her and I hope she stays in touch with me.”

While Sarah was busy on the House floor, first-year student Cara Caccamisi was busy at Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster, shadowing her mentor Gina Bernard – a labor and delivery nurse.

Cara always knew she wanted a career in nursing. But she wasn’t sure about what kind of nursing she wanted to pursue.

At Carroll Hospital Center, Cara had the opportunity to witness the birth of a child, from the epidural to delivery. She was nervous, but ultimately grateful for the experience.

“A lot of friends at bigger universities, four year schools, they don’t have this experience,” she said. “This gave me real life experience versus just reading about it in a book.”

Cara now wants to be a labor and delivery nurse, just like her mentor.

“This [mentorship] helped me clarify,” she said. “It made me realize that I’m on the right path. Rouse really prepares you for the real world.”

Many students stay in touch with their mentors. Some are offered jobs, and others return years later to become mentors themselves.

“We have a lot of Rouse Scholars who are giving back and becoming mentors,” McHugh said.

First-year student Farihah Mehmud was paired up with Maria Viera Crisp, a technical sales specialist for IMB Federal and former Rouse Scholar.

Farihah said Viera Crisp was very accommodating and brought her laptop to HCC campus with different software to show. Farihah knew going into the mentorship that she wanted to stick in the IT field, but was questioning her major in computer science.

In the end, the mentorship led her to change her major to information systems management.

“Sometimes you have to take a chance and make a change to get where you want to be in your career,” she said. “I’m really happy I got the opportunity to do this. This exposed me to the real world. It made a really good impact on me.”

Topics: Success Stories
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