TopMinds Program 2024 graduation

Twenty mentoring pairs completed the TopMinds 2024 program, and on June 14, we met in Warsaw to summarize the edition.

Justyna Janiszewska, Executive Director of the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, opened the event by congratulating participants on completing the edition and thanking those who were particularly involved (including pro bono) in making this edition happen: WRAP members and the organizational team for their work on shaping and realizing the edition – participating in recruitment, preparing, and conducting meetings and training sessions, Piotr Jaworski and Artur Negri, who led the introductory mentoring training and additional thematic meetings. Mentors who dedicated no less than 400 pro bono hours to help their mentees achieve their goals in this edition were exceptionally applauded.

Agata Żak, Board Member of the Top500 Innovators Association, also acknowledged another significant partner of the edition – Częstochowa University of Technology, which provided the essential facilities for the two-day mid-term meeting.

Before the gathered mentees received their program completion certificates and the mentors received written acknowledgments, we listened to three mentoring pairs who shared their reflections on their collaboration.

Joasia, a fifth-year veterinary student, used a distinctly veterinary metaphor: she compared herself at the beginning of the program to a little, featherless chick who had no idea how the world of science worked. Thanks to her mentor, Ania, she got to know this world, and Ania helped her overcome limitations by repeatedly asking, “Why not try further? What’s holding you back?”

“I was inspired by Ania’s experience; when I came to her, all my problems seemed to fade away. […] After these 5-6 months, I feel like an adult laying hen.” – Joasia, mentee in TopMinds 2024.

Another mentee, Gosia, a PhD student in civil engineering at SGGW, was known to her mentor, Maciej, as a bundle of energy that needed a bit of calming down.

“I had very specific goals and problems, which I described on 4 pages of A4 paper. However, Maciej discovered the main problem that wasn’t on those 4 pages, and that’s what we worked on. […] I appreciate that he never once told me to give up on something. […] I managed to find what I want to focus on.” – Małgosia, mentee in TopMinds 2024.

Piotr, the mentor of Mateusz, a PhD student at the Medical University of Łódź, described his mentee as someone who could and wanted to do everything, and mentoring was a time to organize all of that. On stage, Mateusz and Piotr emphasized that they learned a lot from each other, with Mateusz particularly highlighting his newfound time management skills: “Before, I used to say I didn’t have time for something; now I’ve realized that every second depends on me, and it’s up to me to decide whether I have the time.”

A good tradition of summary meetings is networking, which often extends into the late night hours. As in previous years, mentees took the initiative to organize a meeting of participants from previous editions in an informal setting. Who knows, maybe this time it will happen?

See the photo gallery from the summary meeting. Photos by M. Kosiński for Fulbright Poland.

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