The Research Triangle Park

Partner Capture: Q and A with Speed Mentor, EPA’s Harriette Nichols

By Mar 01, 2017

The Impact of Giving Back

This post is part of the series Partner Profiles where US2020 RTP shares the story of how our nonprofit, corporate, school, and university partners are contributing to a STEM education community of practice. Ms. Harriette Nichols is a biologist at the Environmental Protection Agency in RTP. I met with her to write a blog to celebrate the contributions she makes in her community by volunteering. She participated in our speed mentoring session volunteer outreach events during the 2016 Arts n’ STEM Expo, the EPA ‘s Science Days event at Y.E. Smith and many other community service events.

Q: What does volunteering mean to you, and why are you so passionate about it?

Ms. Harriette: I have seen the importance of volunteering, especially in education we hear so many heartbreaking statistics about how minority students are lagging behind in school as having low test scores. I also stress the importance of reading since it was always encouraged by my mother who was a teacher. Kelly Witter’s EPA Outreach Program, gave me an opportunity to volunteer and get students motivated to pursue their desired careers.

Q: Are you currently a mentor to anyone?

Ms. Harriette: I’m helping a young lady get into NC State from Southern School of Energy and Sustainability. She’s not sure if she wants to pursue medicine or math since she appreciates both fields. I then offered her a few options and she seemed particularly interested in biomedical engineering. I also connected her to my daughter who is also at NC State so my daughter can help her out as well.

Q: If you were to give an advice to someone about mentoring, what would you tell them?

Ms. Harriette: I would advise them that it is a great thing to invest your time in because it gives you a good feeling about yourself. There are many forms of mentoring; people are different so one approach might not necessarily be the best for another person. I also want to mention that your mentees will always come back to thank you. I used to use my lunch time once a week to tutor at a school on Fayetteville Street. One day, I was coming back from lunch at EPA and this lady comes up and calls me by my name. I couldn’t quite remember her until she introduced herself and told me I used to help her with reading and math at the school. That experience made my day.

Q: I see that you participated for the US2020 RTP Arts n’ STEM Expo, could you please elaborate on this experience?

Ms. Harriette: It was interesting, a little short because one you got to know the person, it was time to move on. It was great because I got to speak to many students and I think they got a little piece from the other STEM professionals. I was excited to see people from all over, not just the Triangle.

Q: Do you have any suggestions, opinions or questions regarding US2020 RTP?

Ms. Harriette: What you guys are doing is really beneficial. The outreach and reaching out to help in the community. I think it’s really great and you’re helping a lot of young people. Just keep me on the list serve if u need a mentor or tutor for anyone.

Ms. Nichols work in her community has been extraordinary and exemplary of individuals who are committed to seeing their community become a better place. If you are seeking an opportunity to also give back, become a speed mentor at the RTP STEM Expo this on April 7, 2017. All we need from you is an hour of your time to share your story of how you became a STEM professional or STEM Grad student. Here’s the link to sign up: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C2CVCPQ