March 02, 2011

Education entrepreneurs seek funding for web mentoring program

Posted: March 02, 2011

In the world we live in competitions can only have one of two outcomes, you either win or you lose. More than likely we have all been a part of the loosing train at one point or another. The question is, how long will it take for you to get off that train and on to a better one.

For Stephanie Garcia and Tracy Geiger, two graduate students at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, the trip was less than 24 hours.

Garcia and Geiger are the two masterminds behind the idea of the Mobile Mentor Program, an interactive networking site geared to students who don’t believe that college is for them.

“Its conceptualized as an E-mentoring program so secondary students or students who are in either middle school or in high school will end up connecting with current college students and those college students will serve as their mentor,” said Geiger.

Secondary students will have the opportunity to learn what college is really about, why it is important and then they will be connected to a current college student who will sustain excitement for college. Having the program based online allows time and travel constraints to disappear.

The idea stemmed from the well below average graduation rates of high school and college seniors. Garcia and Geiger soon found that their idea had potential when they became one of 30 finalists from over 150 teams at ASU’s Innovation Challenge.

“It was a big shock for us that we even made it past the first round,” said Garcia.

The second round of eliminations arrived with Garcia and Geiger as the first team of the day to compete. With no one to watch as an example the tag team found themselves relying on practice and luck.

However, it was here that the Mobile Mentor Program lost.

“We get disappointed but not discouraged,” said Garcia. She believes that they have planted the seed for their program and already they are receiving great responses from the community.

The two are unsure on the next type of funding opportunity they will pursue whether it be through ASU, nationally or both.  What they do know, is that the program will be moving forward.

With a competition dominated by engineers, businessmen and scientists, the defeat could have been the end of the Mobile Mentor Program.  Ironically, it ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Garcia and Geiger did not allow one door closing to hinder something they are so passionate about. The opportunity in itself was an accomplishment nonetheless.

“So we failed,” said Garcia, “we will get back on the horse and we’re gonna try again.”

Clarissa Tapia
, Clarissa.Tapia@asu.edu
ASU News intern