Students pay it forward by mentoring the next generation

January 23, 2023


Senior Kathryn Reda credits “many amazing mentors” who inspired her to love science and pursue a career in the field.

Reda, a Richmond Scholar studying biochemistry, molecular biology, and leadership studies, wanted to pay it forward by volunteering her time to become a mentor for the next generation of scientists.

Through the University’s mentoring program, Reda — along with senior Emma Bender, a psychology major — taught science to fifth graders at Anna Julia Cooper School in Richmond’s East End. During the fall semester, they taught eight classes on four topics: biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics.

“I wanted to focus my energy on an underserved area of Richmond,” Reda said. “Every Monday when I walk into the classroom greeted by hugs, I am assured that I am providing these incredible kids with mentorship they may not otherwise receive.”

It’s a great way to take learning outside the classroom.
headshot of Blake Stack
Blake Stack

Senior Associate Director of Student Engagement

“Mentoring is a great way for our students to make connections with people across our region,” said Blake Stack, senior associate director of student engagement and the Bonner Scholars Program at the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. “While providing additional support to a variety of educational institutions, students have the opportunity to build relationships with young people and thoughtfully consider new perspectives. It’s a great way to take learning outside the classroom.”

Mentoring isn’t a one-way relationship, Stack explained, but a two-way connection that promotes a spirit of learning and growing together. Mentors have ample opportunities to learn from young people as they work to help them see their potential and share important life lessons.

Stack cited the work of Kim Dean-Anderson, the center’s senior associate director of community relationships, naming her as a key ally in the work of supporting students, staff, and faculty make connections to partners across Richmond. Some of these partners, like MENTOR Virginia, have partnered with the University for more than a decade, providing important resources to build UR students’ mentoring capacity. 

“As we seek to create greater equity in the Richmond community, it’s important to celebrate those who see the value of fostering relationships with young people,” Stack said. “There is much to be done, and the work of building reciprocal relationships rooted in mutual learning is an essential part of ensuring every member of our community can thrive.”