November 16, 2021

Media Contacts: Sarah Phu,

San Jose Aspires Mentoring Meetup Series Launched

SAN JOSÉ, CALIF.- We are excited to share the successful launch of our San Jose Aspires Mentoring Meetup Series!  This series is a designated space for students to connect with and learn from career professionals who support SJ Aspires. Our first event in this series took place on Tuesday, November 16th and focused on the theme “embracing your zig-zag journey.”

IBM served as our Partner Host and keynote speaker for this series and we also had representatives from Samsung, NVIDIA, and Bank of America join us and breakout room facilitators. It was a huge success with about 40 participants.

We kicked off the event with a brief introduction from our partner host IBM Program Director, Chris Akey. We learned that IBM recently hit its 110-year anniversary mark!

One highlight of the event was hearing from our keynote speaker, IBM Senior Data Scientist and world-class musician, Oscar D. Lara-Yejas. He took us on a journey of his life, starting from his roots in Barranquilla, Columbia and ending with how he was able to achieve his goals of being a scientist and musician.

SJ Aspires students were amazed by his zigzag journey. One student even commented: “This guy codes AND makes music!?”

Dr. Lara-Yejas left the students with two pieces of advice: “Take advantage of opportunities” and “Surround yourself with people who support and inspire you.”

After a completing an engaging mind mapping exercise, students were able to speak more closely with the partner representatives in intimate breakout rooms. The students had many questions to ask these career professionals such as, why they chose their career paths, how they were able to balance work and personal life, and if they had any advice for college.

One particular student, a junior at San Jose High School who dreams of one day becoming a general surgeon, commented that she appreciated the representatives for volunteering to be at this event as it “encourages [them] as students to have someone who is willing to speak to [them] about their experiences and give [them] advice.”

After the breakout rooms, students had a chance to come together and share their thoughts about the event. We were extremely pleased to hear one student say that, “It was a really fun time and the hour went by too soon.”

After an hour of insightful and inspiring information and conversations, we brought the event to a close with group photos, thank you’s, and farewells. The SJ Aspires Staff also surprised the students with swag bags to be delivered to their schools, compliments of IBM our partner host.

Students, partners, and staff alike can’t wait for the next Mentoring Meetup event!