For a second year, the Pre-College University (PCU)/Mentorship for Environmental Scholars (MES) Orientation Boot Camp hosted internship recipients at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, VA as a prelude to their 10-week, paid internship. From May 29th through June 2nd, 17 scholars from Minority Institutions across the country, engaged in intensive workshops, presentations, and hands-on activities to prepare them for their summer experience at Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories.
The MES Program is a collaborative effort between PCU and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management to increase minority awareness and participation in the environmental science disciplines. While enhancing the retention of underrepresented students in the environmental science fields, the program also seeks to provide talented undergraduate students with exposure to the numerous research and educational opportunities that are available within the agency.
According to Mr. Clarence T. Brown, MES Program Manager, Students are so often recruited to go off to laboratories and federal agencies to undertake work they have technical expertise in, but no knowledge or understanding of the environment or what it takes to exceed the labs expectations. The PCU/MES Orientation Boot Camp stands in the gap by providing those much needed wrap-around services.
Brown explains, I not only wanted to introduce them to the Dept. of Energy and their stakeholders, but also to empower them by helping them understand what they were about to undertake. He further expressed, I wanted to prepare them to go into it with a personal strategic plan to help improve their chances for success. Many of these scholars have limited experience and exposure to this level of hands-on, real-world research.
The PCU/MES Orientation Boot Camp kicked-off Tuesday evening (May 29th) with arrival of the scholars, quickly followed by dinner/networking, and icebreaker activities hosted by Brown. Kia Jackson, Chemical Engineering major from Tuskegee University, stated, I am usually an introverted person. I was challenged most to get out of my shell and communicate in an effective manner. Upon speaking with Brown about the program, she realized I would get the opportunity to increase my familiarity with networking, teamwork, and project management. This peaked my interestâ€¦ Mechanical Engineering major, Kenya Webb, from Alabama A&M University, came to the Boot Camp with no expectations. According to Webb, I walked in with an opened mind and the willingness to learn something new.
The following day, scholars visited Camp Highroads in Middleburg, VA, where they took part in the teambuilding Challenge Course, which laid the foundation and set the standard for the remainder of the Boot Camp. Camp Highroads Team Challenge Course focused on developing several soft skills, and building; communication, cooperation and trust by helping groups to face challenges as a team. Reflecting on the exercise, Webb expressed, Every minute was enjoyed, but the bonding exercise is top of the list for me. As she pointed out, I faced a fear of mine and went zip-lining. It was actually pretty fun, and I look forward to doing it again.
Over the next two days, scholars learned the fundamentals of the MES Program, and the mission of the Legacy Management Program within the DOE. Ms. Melinda Downing, MES Program Officer, DOE Headquarters, continued to inform and encourage scholars through an interactive Q&A session. Ulrick Cherichel, Civil Engineering major from Florida A&M University, enjoyed the session and appreciated the candid conversation. As he stated, I could sense the authenticity in the responses provided by Ms. Downing. She was able to convey (to our group) some of the personal tribulations she endured as a woman of color in the corporate world. When asked how the session influenced his impression of the MES Program, Cherichel responded, This session was a great motivator for me to continue forward on the path that I’m on and to take full advantage of the opportunity that the MES program has granted me.
The Book Camp concluded with a Project Management (PM) workshop that introduced scholars to various project management elements. Based on the information they received about their assigned research projects, scholars were led to create a strategic plan outlining their internship goals, and identifying the steps necessary to meet these specific goals. At the end of the workshop, students presented and discussed their strategic plan with their peers.
After three days of intense training, the interns departed for their respective internship laboratories, armed with the professional skills and personal knowledge that Pre-College University prides itself on providing – Those things you should know before you go.
In a follow-up statement, Webb expressed, Everything that I needed to know for the internship was a part of the boot camp in one way or another, She continues, Once I arrived at my actual site, I felt more comfortable and confident in what I was doing. I could actually relate to and understand the things my manager talked about, because I had learned key components at the boot camp.
In a similar statement, Jackson adds, goal setting, project management, and presentation skills. All of these skills have been very useful in my research experience thus far. She concluded by saying, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have participated in such a developmental camp.
2018 MES SCHOLARS:
Ky’eisha Carter, South Carolina State University
Ulrick Cherichel, Florida A&M University
Kierstan Green, Savannah State University
Myles Howard, Morehouse College
Kia Jackson, Tuskegee University
Alan Johnson, III, Morris College
Filvert Kinlicheeq, DinÃ© College
Amelia Manhardt, South Carolina State University
Kanesha Moffett, Hampton University
Janna Muhammad, Fort Valley State University
Brooke Redmond, Clemson University
Brieanna Robinson, University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Indigo Rockmore, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Kia Smith, Dillard University
Xavier Sutherland, Atlanta Metropolitan College
Kenya Webb, Alabama A&M University
JaCoya Williams, NC A&T State University