Mentoring comes full circle
For In2science mentor Rayan Hayek, a chance encounter with a mentor in year 12 has come full circle, leading her to become a mentor at her former school.
As a student at Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College, a visit from an In2science mentor to her year 12 physics class was the moment Rayan decided to study biomedical engineering, “the In2science mentor was studying biomedical engineering at that time and inspired me to follow her footsteps. She helped me come to the realisation that engineering isn’t all about men in white caps, anyone can be an engineer you just have to put your mind to it.”
Rayan, in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Biomedical Engineering) (Honours) at RMIT University, has now taken up the opportunity to become an In2science mentor herself, “I always thought teaching was not for me but I realised when you’re so passionate about something, you really want to send a message and help the younger generations aspire for what’s perceived as hard or impossible.”
Rayan’s special connection to Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College as a former student also gave her a head start establishing a rapport with the students, “I could relate to what the students are going through because I already knew the rules and how particular things ran at the school.”
Mentors as role models make a difference in class
For science and maths teacher Catherine van Vliet, Rayan has been a huge help in her year 8 maths class, “Having her here is invaluable. In maths especially, I find having 25 girls and 50 minutes to see them all, to have that extra person in the class…helps me a lot.”
Catherine sees the impact Rayan has had on the students’ future aspirations beyond school, “In the science classes where we’ve talked a lot more about careers they really think, ‘oh maybe that’s a possibility for me, that’s something I could do,’ and they might not have thought that before they met Rayan.”
Catherine says the students have shown interest in Rayan’s path to university, and how they can get there too, “She did talk about what she’d been studying and what she did at school and they ask[ed] her lots of questions about how you get into uni.” With a chuckle Catherine recalled the students asking “‘Do you have to study maths?’”
Positive impact on students
The impact Rayan has had on the students is clear and the year 8 maths class looks forward to Rayan’s visits each week. “Every day they’ll ask ‘Is Rayan coming today?’” says Catherine.
Rayan uses her time in the class to mentor all students, but remembers a specific class when she helped students who were disengaged with the work, “Two students [were] constantly causing trouble and distracting the teacher and the students. I noticed this wasn’t because they [weren’t] interested in the subject, it was because they felt they were on a lower level than the rest of the class and gave up.
“I sat with the two and spoke to them about their future goals and how math is related to it. I proved to them that everything is hard until you work hard and make it easy for yourself. They seemed really motivated and the next class, they were constantly asking me questions about their homework and proved that they want to learn.”
Rayan hopes to leave the students with a desire to seek out more knowledge, “The most important thing for a student is to ask as many questions as possible. The more questions you ask, the more interesting it gets!”