Why Mentorship

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton

It is no secret that success in a career—and in one’s life- is in no small part due to having a great mentor. We all know we need them; some of us have been fortunate enough to have them; and I have had the great, good fortune of being able to be one for a host of young, talented students. Anyone who has shared this role of mentor can attest to the personal satisfaction that comes from watching a young person reach their full potential.

Mentoring, however, goes far beyond that; an effective mentor is someone who cares and what an enormous honor it has been to care for these individuals! It turns out that you don’t have to know Avogadro’s number or the chemical formula for paraformaldehyde; to be a great mentor means you have to know and care about each person.

A lot of these young people put a fantastic amount of pressure on themselves to achieve, and some worry that they won’t be able to leave out their dreams. Our program is here to say, “it’s not as hard as you think and we’re here to help you see that.” What an incredible honor to be a part of making a person’s dreams come true. Thank you for your belief and support in our program!

Meet Our Mentors

Jill Helms, DDS, PhD
Director, Stanford STARS Internship

I’ve heard that the only way to accomplish great things in life is to love what you do. I love being a part of someone’s learning experience.

Each year, the “professor” in me becomes the student. This year, I relished being in-person once again, experiencing once again the excitement and challenge of doing hands-on research with my young colleagues. Each year, I’ve witnessed- and attempted to imitate- their resilience and determination to learn. Whenever I feel depressed or anxious about the state of our nation, of our world- I look to these STaRS interns and my faith and hope is restored. Their future is so bright, we’re gonna all have to wear shades!

Bo Liu
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

I've always enjoyed being part of the STaRS program. Each year, I see young students exploring scientific projects and solving problems, and the process is just fascinating to watch! The students have endless potential and creativity and I think this is among the best program for students to fulfill their curiosity about science, as well as develop friendships, and grow their potential.

Fabiana Aellos
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

So far, it's been one of the best experiences in my life! Having this unique opportunity of being a mentor at Helms Lab has reassured me of my life purpose, be able to touch hearts and make people smile through my making science. It is just unmeasurable how enthusiastic and creative the interns could be, how eager they are about learning every day and how much do they actually challenge you as a mentor. What a big and sometimes scary responsibility of having the young future leaders in your hands, there was no option, you got to give it your all and be ready to unlearn, learn and re-learn! It is not a secret that teamwork is essential for success, and this internship wouldn't be the same without my fellow mentor's support and Jill, the mastermind of the program!

How fascinating is that by being a "mentor," you actually end up being the "mentee".

Can't wait for next summer!

Pedro Cuevas
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

Having begun as a STaRS intern myself, I’ve been directly impacted by great mentors. They taught me the importance of paying it forward and helping the next generation of scientists. Being a mentor for the STaRS program is always the most exciting part of my summer. As a mentor, I’m thankful the students have taught me how to be a better teacher and leader. I always get excited when my mentees update me on their academic journeys and what they’re up to even years after the summer internship has ended.

Now as a Stanford REACH postbaccalaureate program participant, I hope to share my personal journey to dental school with other students who come from similar disadvantaged backgrounds.The best quote, I think, is “Teaching is Learning”. The experience as a mentor makes me more confident and ethusiastic about teaching.

Yasemin Celepcikay
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

Mentoring in the STaRS program has been a great experience for me. More than a mentor, I see myself as a friend who accompanies our interns to explore research life together and I learned a lot. I was also inspired by our interns, who are very energetic and passionate about the program.Thank you for giving me a such a great opportunity to be a mentor in the STaRS. It is the most beautiful experience in my life. 

Kasidy Grant
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

I was raised in rural Canada on a beautiful acreage with horses and ponies. After high school, keen to see more of the world, I moved to Northern California to train in emotional therapy for patients. I returned to Canada where I continued to work in a healthcare setting, this time as a medical student. Coming back to California to work in the Helms lab this past summer felt like a second home, not just because of the familiar geography but because of the incredible work/family environment fostered in the lab. I’ve learnt many skills that will be useful throughout my career as a clinician and researcher, while collecting many laughs and great memories.

Mackenzie Hoy
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

I was born and raised in a small city in Canada. I have always been passionate about science and after high school I attended the University of Manitoba to attain a Bachelor of Science with a focus on biology. My dream career has always been to become a physician and I am now in my second year of medical school and set to graduate in 2025. This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Helms lab. Dr. Helms welcomed me with open arms and has become a mentor to me. Working in the lab I was able to gain a deeper appreciation for the world of research and gain skills that will help me to continue to pursue my goals. I am so appreciative of the STaRS mentorship program and can’t wait to come back next year! 

Abha Patkar
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

My name is Abha Patkar, and I am currently in my first year at UCSF School of Dentistry. I grew up in the Bay Area, and I recently graduated from University of the Pacific with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Philosophy. Over this past summer, I participated in the STaRS internship with the Helms Laboratory at Stanford. I loved my time in this program because not only did I interact with fantastic mentors that helped me advance my research skills, but I also had the opportunity to pay it forward by helping other students by sharing what I have learned throughout my education. This internship also provided an incredible foundation and support system that encouraged me to pursue my research interests in dental school and beyond.

Amarissa Ramos
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

As a first year mentor in the STaRS program, I was initially very intimidated by the idea of teaching new interns. What if they ask me questions I do not know how to answer? What if they don’t like me? What if I am simply not a good teacher? If only I could go back in time to tell myself that this program would be one of the most fulfilling and exciting experiences I ever had the pleasure to be a part of. All of my nerves flew out the window once I saw how excited, curious, and driven all of our interns were. Everyday, I came to the lab excited to work with all of the amazing students and my fellow mentors. It was such a joy getting to teach, and learn with, them throughout the summer. Being a mentor in this program, where I had the opportunity to help foster our interns' passions for science and research, will be something I forever cherish.

McKenna Vicini
Mentor, Stanford STARS Internship

Having the opportunity to serve as a STaRS mentor was the highlight of my summer. I walked into the lab everyday inspired by the drive to learn and grow from both the interns and my fellow mentors. I have greatly benefited from the mentors in my life, so I was honored to have the chance to serve in that role for others. I also made amazing friendships and great memories along the way!