Checking In With Senior Mentorships



Alex Broening, Staff Writer

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Every year, many seniors take on the challenge and the joys of mentorships, and get to study and implement skills and research. Focusing on a huge variety of topics, the seniors experience a work environment with the expert guidance and assistance of their mentors.

Students usually take on a high level of involvement in their mentorships, often becoming central in carrying out parts of the mentor’s research or work. Larry Jia (’19) has performed out extensive research in his mentorship at the Federal Reserve in Richmond. Having done wide-reaching reading on derivative trading at the beginning of the year, Jia has now moved on to data analysis about sovereign defaults. “The Fed has been an excellent place to get some hands-on experience,” Jia says, stressing the relationships he has made, and the exciting work that he gets to participate it. His math skills have also been strained, and it has made him “want to keep taking math classes!”

Alan Lai (19), working with Dr. Jennifer Rohan at the Hematology and Oncology department of the Children’s Hospital of Virginia, enjoys interacting with the patients. Having done significant work with data collection and analysis, Lai has also had to experience the less enjoyable, albeit essential, element of research: data entry. However, this work is far from useless – providing a valuable service and assisting in the research, all while gaining experience in a real work environment.

Lydia Galvin’s (’19) mentorship with Dr. Mark Barron has provided her with an opportunity to watch surgeries that strive to research Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. Her work on a variety of types of tremors and their causes also allows Galvin to gain valuable knowledge and skills that she wants to apply to a career in medical research.

Spencer Smith (’19) has continued to enjoy his mentorship. Working in the office of the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Smith began the year by compiling data and performing analysis on campaign finance. Smith has relished this opportunity to work both on government policy and on the campaign, saying “I’ve always wanted to work in government or politics in some capacity… with this position, I have exposure to many different aspects of government work.” An added bonus, says Smith, is that “not many high school students can say they know and have worked with the Speaker of the House of Delegates!”

With the hectic political climate, the 2019 session of the House of Delegates proved to be both interesting and tumultuous.  Included among the many votes was a decision on the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA, a long-fought and extremely contentious amendment, failed by a single vote in the House of Delegates, essentially ending any hope that this incarnation of the amendment would ever be added to the United States Constitution. Further adding to the chaos in the House was the scandal over Governor Ralph Northam’s scandal over his use of blackface, which created considerable uncertainty in the direction of Virginia politics. Such a varied and intense session of the House of Delegates was, unsurprisingly, fascinating to Smith, and added to the excitement of his mentorship.

Maggie Walker students undoubtedly benefit greatly from the real-world experience they gain from mentorships. The mentorships offer a great way to gain hands-on practice and knowledge, but they also allow students to create meaningful professional relationships and to just have some fun. Says Larry Jia: “It’s been a blast getting to know some incredibly intelligent, talented, and caring individuals!”

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