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The Mentoring Effect

For Many River Hawks, Mentors Make All the Difference

For many students, a bond with a professor, an advisor, a coach or another person on campus can make all the difference in their college experience and set them up for future success. 
Sometimes it’s a matter of connecting students to resources or helping them clarify goals. Sometimes they provide a spark of inspiration or the encouragement to keeping moving in the toughest of times. We checked in with several River Hawks who talked about their mentors on campus and the impact they’ve had.

Adam Basma ’22 and Assoc. Teaching Prof. Deborah Finch

Business student Adam Basma and his mentor Assoc. Teaching Prof. Deborah Finch
By Ed Brennen
Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Assoc. Teaching Prof. Deborah Finch saw something right away in business student Adam Basma.
“Adam stood out in class. He always came prepared and asked great questions,” says Finch, who suggested to Basma that he join the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute as a marketing intern his freshman year. “I just knew he had this entrepreneurial spirit that DifferenceMakers would help him explore further.”
Four years later, Basma still works for the program. He also followed Finch’s lead and published his first book, “There’s a Tale in Between,” through the Creator Institute.
“Prof. Finch has been a huge support for me throughout my college career,” says Basma, who has a sales development job at ZoomInfo waiting for him after he graduates this spring. “It just goes to show that as long as you put in the work and meet the right people, you’re surrounded by an ecosystem of positivity and innovation at UMass Lowell.”

Debby Fernand ’22 and Assoc. Teaching Prof. Matthew Hurwitz

Debby Fernand and mentor Matt Hurwitz
By Katharine Webster
Honors psychology and sociology major Debby Fernand began building a network of mentors for herself through the River Hawk Scholars Academy (RHSA), a support program for first-generation college students. She says the RHSA’s director, English Assoc. Teaching Prof. Matthew Hurwitz, was her first mentor at UML – and connected her to all the rest.
Hurwitz introduced her to Criminal Justice Asst. Teaching Prof. Yahayra Michel, who mentored her and then took her on as a research assistant. Fernand went on to do research with other faculty, paving her path to graduate school in applied sociology.
“Matt really does change people’s minds and lives, and he gives them the tools and connections to do it,” Fernand says. “And he believes in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves.”

William Zouzas ’22 and Prof. Bryan Buchholz

William Zouzas and mentor Prof. Bryan Buchholz in engineering lab
By Ed Brennen
When biomedical engineering major William Zouzas began applying to grad school, he realized just how valuable the mentorship of Prof. Bryan Buchholz has been to him.
“He’s given me a lot of great guidance both inside and outside the classroom. And if I need help with a grad school recommendation, he’s more than willing to write one,” says Zouzas, who took occupational biomechanics with Buchholz — and was then advised by him for his Industrial Capstone Senior Design project.
For Buchholz, working directly with students outside the classroom “is probably the most rewarding part of this job.”
“Seeing them develop projects and accomplish things, as opposed to just taking exams, is fulfilling,” he says. “And having students like William who like what they’re doing and really work hard makes it so much easier.”

Dorcas Ruhamya ’24 and Assoc. Teaching Prof. Khalilah Reddie

Dorcas Ruhamya and Assoc. Teaching Prof. Khalilah Reddie
By Katharine Webster
Dorcas Ruhamya was terrified when Chemistry Assoc. Teaching Prof. Khalilah Reddie asked her to come to her office after class.  
But when Ruhamya, a pre-med student and honors biology major, arrived, Reddie invited her to join MAGIC, a program to help students from underrepresented groups succeed in health care careers.  Reddie also told Ruhamya she’d need to improve her grades to get into medical school. 
Together, they outlined a plan of study. Ruhamya would go to the Centers for Learning for tutoring every day. She would also attend MAGIC’s meetings and weekly tutoring sessions and ace all her other science classes. “I used everything Prof. Reddie recommended, and it came out great,” says Ruhamya, who is now getting the grades she needs to apply to medical school. “She raised me so fast, in one semester – she was really the pivotal point of my life.”
With Reddie's help, Ruhamya has tapped into a network of support, especially among the students and tutors in MAGIC.
“Prof. Reddie built this community,” she says. “She works so hard that I had no reason to fail. She gives us everything.”

Nicole Resendes ’23 and Asst. Director of Employer Relations Jim McGonigle

Mentor Jim McGonigle and Nicole Resendes
By Ed Brennen
Before a student goes out on co-op, they’re required to take a professional development seminar. Business student Nicole Resendes’ friends told her to take it with Jim McGonigle.
“He helped me so much with real-world advice,” says Resendes, who landed her top choice as a social media marketing co-op at MFS Investment Management. “It helped having that structure and guidance.”
McGonigle, now assistant director of employer relations for Career Services, was impressed by Resendes’ diligence and follow-through.
“Giving students advice and sharing the tools that I’ve learned over the years, and then seeing a student like Nicole implement them and be excited about it, that’s the best part of my job,” he says. “Students like Nicole are the reason I work in education.”

Andreas Himariotis ’22 and Asst. Prof. David Cornell

Andreas Himariotis and mentor Asst. Prof. David Cornell
By Karen Angelo
Exercise science major Andreas Himariotis had no interest in research until he met Asst. Prof. David Cornell of the Department of Physical Therapy and Kinesiology
“Dr. Cornell was passionate about his work, and because of that, I immediately took an interest in research,” says Himariotis, who expects to continue on to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program after graduating with his bachelor’s degree. 
Himariotis joined Cornell’s research team, which tested the accuracy of a finger sensor used to measure heart rate variability. He learned how to write scientific papers, conduct literature reviews, collect data and create professional conference presentations. 
“I was lucky enough to present at the conference and won an award for it, all with the help of my mentor, Dr. Cornell,” says Himariotis. 
Cornell says that Himariotis’s enthusiasm and openness to new experiences will serve him well in his future career.
“I’m incredibly proud of all that Andreas has accomplished. He’s completing tasks that a graduate student would typically do and completely immersed himself in the research process,” Cornell says.