Our Islands, Our Future

Racieli AndradaExcite Camp Mentor Racieli Andrada has learned a lot about herself while serving as a mentor during the Maui Economic Development Board Women in Technology Project Excite Camp. “I learned that I have the ability to lead a group and have the patience to teach others,” said Andrada, an 18-year-old Maui High graduate. “It’s important to know how much I can handle and be aware of my capabilities when working with students and peers.”

As a mentor, Andrada helped speakers as they gave presentations during one of the summer camps. She took charge of teaching girls how to use iMovie to create a video about their experience at Excite Camp. “I loved watching their videos and seeing how much they enjoyed their experience and how they were excited to join the STEMworks™ programs,” Andrada said.

It wasn’t all easy, she observed. “The challenges that I faced were teaching girls who were about three years younger,” she said. “It was difficult to calm them down because they were always eager to learn more, but they always looked to do more even though they were in the middle of a workshop.” Andrada also learned what it takes to be an effective mentor. “It’s important to connect with students being mentored and understand their strengths and weaknesses to be able to help them become a better person,” she said.

Mentors “have a huge impact on the younger people because they become more comfortable when learning, and they are able to hear first-hand experiences from their mentors,” Andrada said.

Begun in 2000, Excite Camp’s mission is to create awareness and motivate 7th- and 8th-grade girls — especially those in under-represented minorities — to aspire to careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. In 14 years, more than 300 girls from around the county have participated in the event. Excite Camp is sponsored by MEDB’s Women in Technology Project, in collaboration with the University of Hawaii – Institute for Astronomy, U.S. Air Force and the Maui Research & Technology Park tenants. It is funded in part by the County of Maui, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.