2011 TARGET Program: The value of giving back

Sandra Charles, Target Program coordinator, wrote this column.

Sandra Charles

Just two week ago the 32nd year of Fermilab’s TARGET Program drew to a close. Although it is a busy summer, I’ve had a few minutes to reflect on this wonderful program and the opportunities it yields.

The TARGET Program provides exposure and guidance to high school students often from groups underrepresented in the sciences who aspire to scientific and technical careers. This year 15 students worked alongside Fermilab staff.

During their six weeks at the laboratory, the interns enjoyed hands-on experiences and project-based classes on renewable energy and telecommunications. The students’ experience was augmented by lunchtime talks, such as those given by former TARGET intern and Princeton University sophomore Colin Sylvester, on the college experience. Other speakers included Fermilab’s Cindy Conger, CFO, and Shelley Krivich, technical recruiter, about the laboratory as a business and the types of careers offered here.

This program is always rewarding, but even more so when I get to hear feedback from the interns and their mentors. Here are a few of the students’ thoughts:

“The program allows for real world exposure that is extremely rare to high school students,” said first-generation college-bound high school junior Vicente Lugo, who worked with CD engineer Gustavo Cancello.

“This is a great chance to see how different people with different jobs work together in order to execute a project,” said Anna Eng, a junior at Whitney Young High School, who was assigned to the Computing Division’s NOvA data acquisition group and mentored by Andrew Norman.

The experience is valued by the mentors, too. As first time mentor Weimin Wu, PPD, said, we need this program to encourage young people to participate in basic science, so that institutions such as Fermilab will have a bright future for generations.

I appreciate and value the commitment of time and effort each of this summer’s mentors made to develop meaningful assignments to share their knowledge and experience with intellectually thirsty young persons.

Thank you to this year’s mentors: Aria Soha, PPD; Gustavo Cancelo, CD; David Ritchie, CD; Andrew Norman, CD; Aseet Mukherjee, PPD; Orlando Colon, CD; Molly Anderson, CD; Weimin Wu, PPD; Don Mitchell, TD; Fred Lewis, TD; and Rene Padilla, AD.

To learn more, visit the TARGET Program website.

Interns in the 2011 TARGET Program and their Fermilab mentors.