Women’s ERG Mentorship Program Empowers Girls in STEM
by Chantal Spraggins, Finance Project Manager, Capital Markets
The Women's Employee Resource Group (WERG) mentorship program at Fannie Mae was conceptualized in November 2016, after a group of sophomore girls from H.D. Woodson STEM high school attended the Cyber Youth Symposium on the company's D.C. campus. We quickly realized that our company's focus on financial technology aligned with their focus in Science Engineering Technology and Math (STEM). After months of planning and support from our Community Investment & Engagement team, we rolled out mentorship pilots program in our D.C. and Dallas offices. Fannie Mae mentors were matched to high school students based on which employees’ backgrounds were most parallel to the students' interests and career paths. In addition to the formal, monthly group sessions designed for the program, we encouraged mentors to connect with their mentees outside of the group.
Our mentorship program is designed to help overcome these barriers by introducing young women to science and math to encourage educational and leadership development in the communities we serve.
Reflecting on the multidimensional value of mentoring, below are stories from WERG members sharing why they mentor and how being a mentor has affected their lives.
Why did you get involved with being a mentor?
"When I first heard about the program, I thought about it but then decided against it, because it would take time away from my work and home responsibilities. Ultimately, I realized that I fit the profile for a mentor and I needed to step up to help.
For young African-American women (high school students) it could only help to have another adult in their life who could listen, share their experiences, encourage them to pursue their dreams, and maybe offer another perspective on life that they had never thought of before. Our girls need to see first-hand that women just like them are working to make a better life for themselves and take care of their families."
- Kelly Wyatt, Making Homes Affordable Program
How has being a mentor impacted you?
"This program has impacted me in a way that I can't fully describe in words. I was paired with a young lady whose current life almost directly mirrors my own childhood experiences. That has made it fairly easy to connect with her and build a rapport. It also gave me confidence to know that I can make an impact in this program by simply being my authentic self. When I signed up, I never thought about how just being myself and modeling positive behavior could be so meaningful to another family. When my mentee calls me with a seemingly big obstacle to her, I've been able to help her research, pool together my own resources, and show her that the obstacles aren't so big after all. Where there is a will, there is a way. Put your mind to success and it will follow.
This program is another great method that the company uses to touch our communities. I had a Fannie Mae appointed mentor when I was in high school and the experience is one that I still treasure. Keep up the good work!"
- Daanish Jones, Legal
We’re honored to have had the chance to impact the lives of the mentees in this program. We hope that they continue to pursue their STEM dreams.
If you feel connected to the work our Women's ERG is doing, and similar opportunities to impact our community, click here to explore our open jobs and join us at the heart of housing.