President Obama and Young Americans

Pursuing a PhD from Poverty

“Tales of Excellence, Achievement and Mentorship” or “TEAM” is a weekly series partnered with StudentMentor.org where we feature college students and young Americans from diverse backgrounds across the country who are using mentorships to move their career and educational goals forward. You will hear in their own words how mentors have helped them succeed and transform into the leaders of tomorrow.

Through StudentMentor.org, college students can conveniently find and collaborate with mentors to successfully graduate from college and embark on their desired careers.

Joyce is an immigrant from a low-income family with big dreams of pursuing a PhD after graduating in 2010 with a degree in genetics. As the first in her family to go to college, she felt that by fulfilling her passion in the medical field it would make the whole family proud. She used the expert guidance of her mentor to make important decisions about her next steps toward graduate school admission and improving her English. Without StudentMentor.org Joyce would have been stuck without the answers she needed to fulfill her dreams.

My name is Joyce Jiao. I am an immigrant and come from a low-income family. I am the first person in my family to go to college. I started at a community college and eventually transferred to a four-year university. I majored in genetics and graduated in 2010. I originally wanted to pursue a PHD right after graduation, as I explored other career paths, I found my passion, I was out of school and did not have access to school counselors/advisors anymore. I looked up medical school advisors online, but I couldn’t afford the expensive counseling fees.

I came across StudentMentor.org while I was finding volunteer positions. I posed a request on seeking advice about medical school admission. Quickly, a physician responded to me and offered me a mentorship. We introduced ourselves to each other, and communicated through emails. As time went by, we started using Skype. My mentor gave me tremendous help not only on the medical school admission process but also on how to improve my English. Moreover, he generously shared his life stories and experiences with me. He is one of the best mentors that I’ve had in my life. I feel more secure and confident as a I travel down the road to achieving my goals because someone that I trust is out there with me whenever I need some advice.

I HIGHLY recommend StudentMentor.org to others because I want more people to benefit from this program just like I did. Thank you for initiating this great program not only for helping people like me but also for giving an opportunity to others who are kind and want to give back and share their experience with people who are in need.

Check out previous TEAM blog posts:


Ronnie Cho is an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.

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