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No Stopping STEM

CSL Behring employees help a Philadelphia-area mentorship program zoom along during pandemic.

Illustration of science, technology, engineering and math

Despite a global pandemic that disrupted school life, the learning never stopped for a group of young scholars in the Philadelphia region.

The Young Men and Women in Charge (YMWIC) mentoring program, which connects economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented young people with professionals working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), continued its partnership with area businesses – including CSL Behring – and connected kids with STEM professionals all summer long.

“This program is very important,” said Richard Roberts III, founder and president of YMWIC. That’s why his organization did everything it could to keep the mentorship going throughout the summer, as some other community resources available to young people had to shut down or reduce their offerings.

The program converted its services to an online platform, Roberts said. He believes the now-virtual mentorship program helped students adapt to distance learning, which is happening in many school districts this fall.  

Through the partnership, scholars from YMWIC connected with professionals through Zoom video chats to participate in virtual job shadowing, mock interviews and presentations. The students showed a high level of interest even as the programming shifted online, several mentors said.

“The scholars are engaged and creative,” said Rebecca Mimms, Associate Director, Operations and Quality for CSL Plasma. She is impressed with the time and effort YMWIC scholars put into the program. “During their presentations, I could see their pride, excitement and creativity shine through,” Mimms said.

Joan Siegel, Corporate Account Manager at CSL Behring, agreed. She worked with the students on a request for proposal (RFP) marketing presentation about COVID-19. “The scholars worked hard and smart to complete and present their RFP responses in a live virtual format,” she said.

Taking the program virtual meant that Siegel, based 1,000 miles away in Florida, could participate.

CSL Behring plans to continue working with YMWIC this fall. Planned activities include a college expo, during which college students will log into virtual “rooms” to talk to representatives from participating companies. In October, mentors will start working with high school students to prepare for a virtual science expo in March 2021.