Prep for Prep Students Expand Their Horizons Through Hugo Mentors

Prep for Prep and Hugo Mentors are teaming up for a second summer to provide valuable mentorship and research opportunities for Prep students.
Every summer, Prep for Prep draws on a diverse array of partnerships to offer students valuable opportunities to further their professional and leadership development. Prep for Prep is excited to team up with Hugo Mentors again for a second season. Hugo Mentors connects ambitious high schoolers to professors from leading universities for individualized learning experiences that culminate in meaningful research projects. Under the guidance of their mentors, students can discover their intellectual passions and explore subjects more deeply than high school classes usually allow. 
Last year for the launch of their Hugo Scholars program, Hugo offered full scholarships to three Prep for Prep students and matched them with mentors in fields of interest to them. Sanaa C. (XXXVIII), Mercedes U. (XXXVIII), and Kim P. (P9 XXX) each completed a final project that drew on their newfound knowledge and further built their academic self-confidence. 
Sanaa worked with Dr. Nicole Hernandez, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, to unpack the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of minority communities. “I loved the program,” said Sanaa. “I learned a great deal about reading research studies, breaking down data and information, and writing my own research paper.” Her mentorship provided Sanaa with a foundational understanding of neuroscience and mental health disorders. 
Mercedes was paired with Dr. Danielle Hauslee, a postdoctoral researcher in Marine Biology at Stanford University, and completed a research paper on the social behavior of sharks for submission to a student journal. For Mercedes, one-on-one meetings with her mentor were one of the most enjoyable aspects of the program. “I enjoyed learning new things and being able to talk about these new things with my mentor. I also enjoyed asking my mentor questions that were about the things I read. It helped clarify a lot of the readings I did.”
Kim further developed her research and writing skills under the mentorship of Dr. Tiffany Taft, Assistant Professor in Psychology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Kim contributed to a scientific paper based on qualitative interview data from a study Dr. Taft did, looking at post-traumatic stress disorder in patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. “It was really extensive, hard research because I didn’t know anything about what she was working on,” said Kim. “The process overall was really fun to do. This has been such an amazing opportunity beyond the academic level.” Dr. Taft and the team working on the paper were so impressed with Kim’s "powerful blend of intellectual curiosity, analytical skills, and writing abilities'' that they offered her first authorship on the article, which is currently under review and is expected to be accepted to publication by a peer-reviewed journal within the upcoming months. 
Leading research on mentorship reinforces the idea that working closely with a mentor can help young students build confidence, clarify their path, and increase their readiness for future academic challenges. Sanaa, Mercedes, and Kim’s exceptional growth are a shining example of the benefits of working with a mentor. We’re proud to celebrate the achievements of last year’s three Hugo Scholars and are excited to see what new projects the next group of Prep students will achieve this summer.
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Prep for Prep's mission is to develop future leaders by creating access for young people of color to first-rate educational, leadership development and professional opportunities.