Online Mentoring Program for Students Brings Together Academia and Industry

Last September 7th, the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) presented in San Juan, its Online Mentoring Program to a group of industry and professional organizations’ representatives in order to establish collaboration partnerships to benefit university students.

Companies and organizations that attended the event and showed interest in participating in the Mentors Program include Hamilton Sundstrand, Verizon, Triple SSS, Destilería Serralles, Tech Heads de PR, Colegio de Ingenieros y Agrimensores and the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Hispanic Nursing Association. Since last year, the Mentoring Program receives the support of professionals who work for the IBM Corporation and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, who have volunteered their time and contributed to this collaborative initiative between the academia and the industry. Similar outreach efforts are being directed toward industries and organizations in the United States to recruit mentors at the national level.

This academic semester, the Mentoring Program will be launched on October 6 and the goal is to recruit 125 mentors in different fields in Puerto Rico and the United States. This Program is available free of charge to students enrolled at HETS member institutions, which include in Puerto Rico: the Inter American University of Puerto Rico (IAUPR), the Ana G. Méndez University System, and Sacred Heart University. The Program’s goal is to improve the quality of learning by offering students a relationship that offers guidance and support, with professionals who work in the student’s field of interest. The Program, which is offered through the Internet, is set up so that it can provide this type of help regardless of where the students and the mentors are located, and of differences in their schedules. Communication takes place through messages that they exchange in a cyber area known as the Salita (Lounge). Each pair of student and mentor gets a Salita once they are matched after registering in the Plaza Virtual (www.virtualplaza.org). The mentoring activities, the discussion topics and the electronic announcements can all be accessed through the Salitas. These online functions were explained at the September 7th event through a multimedia demonstration that simulated an exchange between a mentor and a student.

Present at the event that featured the Program were Manuel J. Fernós, Esq., President of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and current President of the HETS Board of Directors; Dr. José J. Rivera, President of the Sacred Heart University; and Ms. María de Lourdes López, Assistant Vice-President of Distance Learning Education at the Ana G. Méndez University System, standing-in for President José F. Méndez. Those who attended the event learned how participating entities can strengthen their commitment to education as well as promote a positive corporate image. Also, mentors can obtain a fresh view of their profession and value their own professional achievements, while they also gain the satisfaction of guiding university students towards better understanding of the working world.

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