Mentorship: Paying it forward, transforming lives
Raytheon Technologies employees tap into their expertise and experience to guide and advise students across the U.S.
Ashley Flores was an eighth grader in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when she met her mentor. It was the beginning of a bond that endured through high school and is just as strong today.
“We just clicked,” said Flores, now a special education teacher at Lawrence High School. “She’s like my second mom, a friend, a sister - someone I can go to if I need anything.”
That “someone” is Liz Rogers. When she started mentoring Flores, Rogers was an Operations lead at the Raytheon Technologies business now known as Raytheon Missiles & Defense, or RMD. They first connected through Family Services’ Stand & Deliver, an academic mentoring program that matches Lawrence public school students, grades 8–12, with mentors from local businesses.
Flores was one of Rogers’ first mentees, and they remain in contact today, “It’s been very rewarding as I’ve watched her grow,” Rogers said. “It’s great to be able to be a trusted adult in somebody’s life, because as much as they get from it, I do too.”
Rogers is among several hundred employees who mentor students through various programs RMD supports across the United States. In addition to Stand & Deliver, others include Earn to Learn, Imagine Your STEM Future, Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, Pima JTED, Women in STEM and the AUM Foundation’s Pathway 2 Success.
“We team up with these organizations because we believe in helping students today find their place in the future,” said Kristin Hilf, vice president of Global Communications and Marketing for Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “Mentorship transcends textbook learning, as our volunteer mentors share what they’ve learned over the course of their careers.”
In Tucson, Arizona – some 2,700 miles southwest of Lawrence – Patrick Pinder-Newton, a junior at the University of Arizona in Tucson, was having doubts about his career path. "I was really struggling with my classes," he said. He wanted to be an engineer, but he just wasn't sure he'd make it.
But those doubts soon went away after he was matched with a mentor, Carlos Hurtado, a senior mechanical engineer at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “He reassured me that, even if I’m not doing the best in my math or physics classes, I still have the capabilities to be an amazing engineer,” Pinder-Newton said.
Starting June 2021, Hurtado mentored Pinder-Newton through the university's Summer TRACK program, where students enroll in extra classes, develop their professional skills and spend time at participating companies in and around Tucson.
Pinder-Newton has completed Summer TRACK, but his mentorship with Hurtado continues. As well as coursework, they strategize networking, mock interviews and how to navigate a professional environment.
“The biggest thing that Carlos has offered me is his engineering expertise, breaking it down in a very digestible manner that I’m able to apply in many of my classes,” said Pinder-Newton, who likes the collaborative design aspects of engineering. He credited that guidance with his decision to stick with his engineering major. And he’s accepted a summer internship opportunity at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
For his part, Hurtado said the mentorship’s benefits are mutual: “The biggest thing I learned from Patrick is to keep a positive outlook. He’s so full of energy and life, and he’s super excited about accomplishing his goals, both academically and professionally, that it gives me a good breath of fresh air.”
“As I grew up without a father, Carlos has really shown me the ropes when my mother couldn’t,” Pinder-Newton said. “I call Carlos my ‘bonus’ dad, as anytime I need help with something, he is there.”
Hurtado said he’s happy to step in whenever he can.
“We talk about personal and professional things but, outside of that, we hang out,” Hurtado added. “I have a barbecue, he comes over. He was looking to buy a car, so I helped him out based on my own skills and experiences with cars.”
Hurtado, like many of his colleagues, mentors out of gratitude for those who did the same when he was starting out. “I felt very fortunate when I was in Patrick’s shoes many years ago when I had mentors who really helped me. So, since they made a big difference in my life, I always felt that I should give back.” After nine years as a volunteer mentor, Hurtado has no plans to stop.
Mentee to mentor
Back in Massachusetts, where Rogers – now a program manager at another Raytheon Technologies business, Raytheon Intelligence & Space – still volunteers for Stand & Deliver. And now Flores finds herself in the role of mentor, as well – particularly for the students she now teaches.
"Having Liz in my life makes me want to work hard and give it back to another person," she said. "That's why I wanted to be an educator."