Stuyvesant’s New Alumni Mentoring Program

August 2015

Stuyvesant alumnus Brian Levine ’01 has been hanging out with current Stuy students—with a purpose.

He is one of 34 alumni mentors serving 41 student mentees in the new SHSAA Alumni Mentoring Program—which is now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 year.

“I joined the Mentoring Program primarily because I wanted to expose Stuy students to something different than traditional engineering,” says Levine, who works for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. “The Mentoring Program is a great way to give back to the school in a more meaningful way than just a monetary contribution, yet the time commitment does not make it burdensome.”

The participants met four times throughout the course of the Spring 2015 semester. The sessions all took place in a structured setting with agenda items such as professions, academics, extra-curriculars, resumes and interviewing workshops. These are life skills that Stuyvesant students say they simply don’t learn in their academic classes, but need to know.

The program was created in 2014 by YanJie Hou ’06, now a MBA student at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She says that although she loved Stuyvesant, she found that school did not focus on many of the “soft skills” needed to thrive in the professional world.

“I wasn’t even aware of just how important the skills of teamwork, communication, and the subtle art of self-promotion are until years after Stuyvesant,” Hou explained. “So when I became involved with the Alumni Association, I really wanted to create a program that can expose students to different viewpoints beyond the academic/extracurricular focus of the school and help them develop other skills and qualities needed for long-term success.”

Last semester, the program had to turn away 60 percent of student mentee applicants because the demand for mentors far outstripped supply. So it is making an appeal now for new mentors. Alumni from all professions are welcome, as are retirees.

Levine says he had found passing along his knowledge to be deeply rewarding. “In fact, a few of my colleagues also graduated from Stuyvesant and by halfway through the program, I was already recommending them to consider joining!” he says.

One of Levine’s mentees, Stuyvesant sophomore Andrew Lin ’16, says that the experience of having an alumni advisor he would not know otherwise has been tremendously helpful. Not only has he learned about the field of engineering, but Lin says his mentor has given him a leg up in the real world.

“This program helped me create my first resume, which also helped me attain my first professional job at the Department of Design and Construction in New York, ” Lin says. “In short, this program gave me a lot of resources and connections.”

Participants say the program has been particularly helpful for students who are not native born or whose parents grew up abroad.

Program participant Hasan Tukhtamishev ’17—who moved to New York from the former Soviet of Uzbekistan when he was 8—says it was a priceless experience to get to shadow his mentor Arthur Handler ‘53 and his colleagues for a day at his law firm.

“I got to learn so much about the work that they do, their education, lives, and the field of law in a broader scope,” Tukhtamishev says. “I won’t necessarily follow their footsteps, but now I have an idea of the direction I’d like to go in if I do decide to pursue law.”

Similarly, Joyce Lei ’17 said that the Mentoring Program has given her experience, skills and a network. “As a child of parents who have not had experience working with professionals, I was hindered by my lack of knowledge about the real world, she explains. “I believe that this opportunity could be a turning point in my life.”

Mentors’ and students’ feedback about the program so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Students say they are getting exposure to information they don’t get via either the school, their peers or immediate family. A few students even attributed the training and skills they learned from the program in helping them secure their summer internships.

Others say the mentor panels on academics and extra-curriculars were particularly helpful in demystifying the college applications process.

“The program was well organized and each session was structured so that both mentor and mentee always benefited from each other and their peers,” says mentor Levine, a resident of Park Slope. “Mentees were selected through a rigorous application process which ensured their commitment. Each session had a purpose (such as career choice or resume building) yet there was enough flexibility to get to know your mentees and form a strong bond.”

The Alumni Association hopes to continue and expand the Mentoring Program this fall. If you would like to get more involved within the Stuyvesant community and help out current students, we strongly urge you to apply to be a Mentor today.

Please help the SHSAA provide a mentor for every student who wants one by volunteering just a few hours of your time to help a current Stuyvesant student.

“As my mentor told me, we can’t know what will happen to us in the future, but we can work on ourselves in every aspect possible,” says Tukhtamishev. This program helps current Stuyvesantians do that work to prepare themselves for a bright future.

For more information about the Mentoring Program and to apply, please click here

For the application link, click here.