RPI student Ananya Murali has a strong background in working towards gender equality.  She was selected to be a national delegate for the 59th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations where she worked with Hillary Clinton and Patrcia Arquette. In 2016, she was awarded named one of Wisconsin’s top two youth volunteers by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for creating an educational leadership camp for female middle school students.  The camp concentrated on teaching female students how to protect themselves from bullying in school.  When selecting a college, Women’s Mentoring Program was one of the reasons behind Ananya’s choice of RPI.  We caught up with Ananya, and her mentor Mallory Gaspard, to learn more about their experience with Rensselaer’s Women’s Mentoring Program.

Interview with Mentee Ananya Murali
1. How did you first hear about the Women at Rensselaer Mentor Program?
I was applying to Rensselaer in October of last year, and came across the program while I was browsing through the website.
2. Could you please share some specifics about the program that influenced your decision to enroll at Rensselaer?
I quote my application essay: One thing I am fascinated by is the Women at Rensselaer Mentor Program. I am a strong advocate for women and girls; I have been a Girl Scout for over 13 years now, and was chosen as a national delegate to speak on a panel at the 59th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters in New York about the Status of Women and Girls in our country. I strongly believe in the idea of having women role models that incoming students can look up to during their transition period into a new environment.
3. Can you please tell us how you and your mentor first connected and what you discussed?
We connected over Facebook at the end of July, and discussed the summer so far, classes, and events for NRB week. Since we’re both in the school of sciences, it was really great to be able to ask questions about courses and textbooks because Mallory already went through it once.
4. How have you benefitted from your mentoring partnership so far?
I have! Mallory is great at just helping with whatever I need. Thanks to her, I’ve gotten textbooks, back tests, and some great insight on professors. She’s always there if I need someone to talk to!
5. Is there anything you wish could have been different about your mentor match or how you received information about the match?
Absolutely not! I love my mentor and everything is working out perfectly.

Interview with Mentor Mallory Gaspard
1. How did you first hear about the Women at Rensselaer Mentor Program?
After I accepted to come to RPI, I got a letter in my welcome packet over the summer. I did not know about it prior to applying and accepting my place at RPI.
2. Why did you choose to become a peer mentor?
I have had really great mentors in the past, with both peers and faculty, since middle school. Because my mentors have become the most important people in my life, I wanted to be that person for someone else. I was actually a mentor in high school, but it was a little bit different. I saw the benefit of it then, and I wanted to do it myself.
3. You are a peer mentor for two students who have different majors from you. Please describe the benefits and challenges of mentoring two people from the same School but different majors.
When you apply to be a mentor, I was asked if I wanted to take two mentors, and obviously I said yes. When I heard about my two mentees and their different majors, I was really excited because Ananya is in the medical program and Lauren is in geology, and I was excited that I was able to learn so much more about them. It enhances the whole widening the horizons thing. I was excited to learn more about them and just being able to learn from them and a wider variety of perspectives. I love learning from others because it makes me as a person more whole, and it’s great to be able to see from different perspectives and being able to interact with people who have different personalities and different interests. These are valuable skills to have and a great way to make new friends!
4. Can you please tell us how you and your mentee, Ananya Murali, first connected and what you discussed?
We connected over gmail! I sent her an email, and we connected over Facebook immediately. I was here over the summer, taking classes, and I was so excited when I got the email. We just started talking about the basics, like the summer, and getting to know each other.
5. How have you benefitted from your mentoring partnerships so far?
It’s definitely been a learning experience for me. Comparing this to being a mentor to freshmen in high school, I was in charge of an advisory group to meet once a week. We talked about pressures in high school, and it was more like I was teaching a class. But here, I get to be here as a friend for my mentees and be there to support them and help them with questions. I definitely like it a lot better now. Even though our experiences will never be the same, I can still share my experiences with them and help make their transitions better.

Written by Andrea O'Brisky