Prof. Dr. Joy Stewart and Her Mentee Oda Share How Their Passion for Science and Understanding the Human Body Connects Them Even when the Atlantic Separates Them
Engagement Specialist Christin Graml caught up with mentor Prof. Dr. Joy Stewart, professor of biological sciences at Broward College in Davie, Florida (United States), and her mentee Oda from Germany to get their thoughts on what they have learned from each other, both scientifically and culturally, and why they are excited for what lies ahead in their mentoring relationship.
Oda is only 15 years old, but she already has her eyes set on pursuing a career as a medical doctor and researcher in pharmaceutical sciences. Always looking for new topics to explore in her areas of interest, the young, driven student from Germany is passionate about learning about humans through the lens of chemistry in order to help create solutions in areas such as sustainable food production. Looking for ways to expand her knowledge and develop her skills, Oda decided to apply for a mentee spot in Global Talent Mentoring.
Nominated by CyberMentor, Germany’s largest online mentoring program for girls in STEM, Oda made the cut. Since being accepted into the program and being matched with her mentor, Oda’s experience as a mentee has helped her to fill in gaps left in the traditional classroom experience at school. “I definitely appreciate the dyad system most,” says Oda. “It differs a lot from school, where I am just one of dozens of students for my teacher. The dyad system supports quick, efficient, and goal-oriented learning to an extent with which school could never compare. Forming a team that consists of a mentor and a mentee improves my studying and research habits immensely. I am thankful to be able to learn, research, and evolve through Global Talent Mentoring.”
Forming a team that consists of a mentor and a mentee improves my studying and research habits immensely. I am thankful to be able to learn, research, and evolve through Global Talent Mentoring. –Mentee Oda from Germany
Prof. Dr. Joy Stewart, Oda’s mentor, has undoubtedly made a positive impact on Oda’s Global Talent Mentoring experience. Prof. Dr. Stewart is a professor of biological sciences at Broward College in Davie, Florida (United States). She has written several textbooks and publications on biological sciences, human anatomy, and physiology and helps increase Oda’s understanding of the human body by sharing her expertise in these topics. One of her greatest joys when it comes to teaching and mentoring is the ability to connect with students and witness that “Aha!” moment when a student or mentee is finally able to comprehend a difficult concept. The professor is eager to share her knowledge with motivated young people and places a lot of value on the mentoring process—and mentoring Oda is no exception.
People tend to focus on the benefits of mentoring for the mentee, but it can be a process that is just as rewarding in different ways for the mentor. Prof. Dr. Stewart considers this true of her own experience, which she finds extremely fulfilling. “I really enjoy working with my mentee because she adds so much to the whole process,” Prof. Dr. Stewart notes. She has been especially impressed by Oda’s maturity and focus—even at 15 years of age—and is encouraged by working with such a motivated young talent. “Oda is so respectful. She is always using the tips I give her, and you can see improvement. By the time she is 25 or even younger, she will probably be doing her doctoral work. She’s excellent! The fact that she works so hard, is so enthusiastic, and so appreciative makes me say that this has to be something special. It’s so rewarding for me that I cannot wait to get to the next session with Oda—always. It’s something I look forward to. It’s just wonderful!” adds Prof. Dr. Stewart.
One aspect of Global Talent Mentoring that the dyad has enjoyed is the opportunity to work with someone from a different country and culture. For Oda and Prof. Dr. Stewart, it has been educational to learn how science is being taught in their respective countries and what the learning experience there is like. For example, Prof. Dr. Stewart helps Oda understand research practices and applications that are not only taught at her university, but that are also universal to the international science community.
Through their exchanges, Prof. Dr. Stewart and Oda are not only discovering what differences exist between their cultures, but also how much they have in common and how the pursuit of excellence in science brings them together. “Science has no borders,” underlines Oda. “STEMM is an international topic, and the more we can discuss, exchange opinions, and learn from each other, the better it is for all of us. I think interacting with my mentor in the United States is very interesting, because the U.S. is a leading country in science worldwide, and advancements evolve very quickly there. The comparison of different situations in Europe and America is quite insightful for me. It shows me a lot about different approaches to scientific tasks. I’m also amazed by how much we have in common. In our common goal of scientific progress, we are all brothers and sisters—no matter where we live, study, or come from.”
I feel honored to be a part of Global Talent Mentoring, and my mentee adds so much to the process. –Prof. Dr. Joy Stewart
Cultural differences are not the only ones this dyad has encountered. A six-hour time difference also has the potential to create challenges. But the dyad’s open outlook and eagerness to work together is an effective remedy. Prof. Dr. Stewart’s and Oda’s dedication to each other makes it easy for the dyad to overcome challenges that arise, for example, by finding time slots that work for both of them. “It’s all about planning,” Prof. Dr. Stewart points out. “Oda tells me when she is available, and I plan to be available at those times. Oda is far from me, but every time we communicate, we say, ‘We’re only an email away!’ If Oda ever has a problem, I get back to her as fast as possible.”
Oda is an enthusiastic, committed member of the Global Talent Mentoring community and is excited about what lies ahead with Prof. Dr. Stewart. “I really look forward to every video chat with my mentor and the chance to deepen and improve my scientific thinking,” says Oda. Likewise, Prof. Dr. Stewart looks forward to continuing her long-term mentoring work with Oda. “I feel honored to be a part of Global Talent Mentoring, and my mentee adds so much to the process. I would definitely encourage any professional who would like to do this to please do it. It’s a very rewarding and fulling experience. I’m thankful I have this opportunity to mentor and would recommend Global Talent Mentoring to anyone who wants to do this,” highlights Prof. Dr. Stewart.