Packard on successful mentoring in STEM

Backy Wai-Ling Packard, Professor of Psychology and Education

A student’s capacity and interest, along with a sense of belonging, are the three main factors that influence the desire to study a subject in the sciences, said Becky Wai-Ling Packard, professor of psychology and education at Mount Holyoke College.

Speaking with Venturewell, a nonprofit organization that supports students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship, Packard said that successful mentoring initiatives require a personal, streamlined approach. Doing so can help encourage underrepresented students to explore the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

“Mentoring with intention means you start with the outcomes you want for students first and then consider how mentors can help achieve them. . . . Know which outcomes matter to you, then go about putting together the people and approaches to make them happen,” said Packard, who also serves as the director of the Weissman Center for Leadership
Packard’s most recent book is Successful STEM Mentoring Initiatives for Underrepresented Students. The book offers guidelines for encouraging college students to pursue STEM fields, especially those who have been historically marginalized, including people of color, and female, low-income, first-generation, and nontraditional-age students.