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PCCC STEM Students Selected as Mentors

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

STEM SUMMER MENTORS sit and discuss more about the program. (Photos by Jenny Hernandez)

—By Arianne Bakelmun

On Thursday July 8th 2022, five Passaic County Community College STEM students consulted with Dr. Susan G. Weinberger on a four week summer mentoring program. Judiht Hilares, Jocelyne Romano, Franklin Sami, Justin Santiago were selected as mentors with Joseph Huaylla as a substitute mentor.

Each student has already taken on leadership roles in STEM projects. Additionally, Hilares, Romano, Sami, and Santiago are currently involved in the Urban Scholars for Climate Change grant. As such, each has proven themselves to be a committed role model.

Professor Russell Gambino and Ms. Kathleen Vancheri will take on the role of success coaches and will advise the student mentors. Professor Dennis Reer serves as the director.

The students will mentor incoming first semester PCCC students as part of the STEM Explorers Academy. This Academy offers the incoming freshman the opportunity to take Math and English summer classes, earn college credits, learn about STEM prospects, and begin to structure their education and career paths.

Dr. Weinberger is so invested in mentorship programs that she is known as “Dr. Mentor.” She began the meeting by asking each person to picture the people from their childhood and school years who offered support and cared about their growth and success. Each STEM student now can take on a similar, caring, role towards their peers. They will meet with their group of incoming students once a week along with one-on-one meetings.

They were encouraged, among other things, to be a nurturer, advocate, coach, cheerleader, and listener. Dr. Mentor also stressed the importance of mentors knowing when to direct any challenges towards an outside resource, such as a counselor.

According to College Navigator, at Passaic County Community College, only 13% of students who began their studies in the fall of 2018 graduated (“Passaic County Community College”). Therefore, it is important to build this network of mentorship and guidance so that more students may have the support they need to graduate.

As Dr. Mentor closed the meeting she offered, “My dream and my hope is that there is an opportunity for incoming first-year students at the college, even those that go beyond that, to always have the support from a mentor or mentoring program. Whether it’s a peer mentor, someone from the community, or someone internally, it really helps to get them through.”

Works Cited

“Passaic County Community College.” College Navigator - Search Results,

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