Role Model: Envisioning a Hopeful Future

Mathematician Dr. Juan Meza initially experienced a lack of effective role models in his academic career. At times, it was difficult to see himself as a future leader in STEMM, especially when there were few mentors who shared his background. In this episode, Dr. Meza shares his story of moments where he was discouraged to pursue STEMM, how certain leaders stepped in to guide him, and how he currently works with students to ensure they are equipped for all challenges.

Mentors may not always realize that students perceive them as role models. Yet, mentees pay attention to their mentor’s behavior, attitudes, and accomplishments. Mentees can envision themselves as successful in their chosen STEMM career when they see positive role models succeeding in the same field, particularly role models with similar values or a similar background. 

Mathematician Dr. Juan Meza initially experienced a lack of effective role models in his academic career. At times, it was difficult to see himself as a future leader in STEMM, especially when there were few mentors who shared his background. In this episode, Dr. Meza shares his story of moments where he was discouraged to pursue STEMM, how certain leaders stepped in to guide him, and how he currently works with students to ensure they are equipped for all challenges. 

Dr. Juan Meza is the Division Director for the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences. Previously, he served as Dean of the School of Natural Science at the University of California, Merced after earning his PhD in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Rice University. Dr. Meza is also a Professor of Applied Mathematics. His current research focuses on nonlinear optimization with an emphasis on methods for parallel computing. Dr. Meza has received numerous awards and has served on several external boards and federal advisory committees. 

To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring


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