Aria (mentee) and Anna (mentor)

A STEM mentorship that blossomed into an enduring relationship

Aria Morrill (Class of 2023) is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, focused on food science in general, and research and development in particular. This summer, she is expanding her knowledge through an internship with Conagra Brands. Aria said, “I am here because of Anna—straight up!”

Anna Wilson (BSA ’05, MS ’07) serves as the Director of Research and Development (Protein) for Rich Products Corporation and Aria’s mentor through the UGA Mentor Program. “Real-world challenges weren’t necessarily covered when I was in school,” Anna explained. “I loved my time at UGA and thought it would be awesome to talk to students about the things I wished I had learned. Women, especially, may need mentorship in this industry.”

Aria firmly believes that she has her internship, thanks to Anna. “The way she prepared me gave me everything I needed to interview well. She taught me vocabulary and shared industry knowledge that puts me ahead of my peers. Her guidance shaped the way I interact with others and is helping me get the most out of this internship.”

Anna said that seeing Aria flourishing is fulfilling for her, too. “Becoming a mentor helped me think a little differently. I reflect back on my studies, but also get a valuable perspective on what students are coming out of school with today. It informs my hiring process and helps me recognize teaching moments in day-to-day work with my team,” she said.

Aria has gotten so much out of this mentorship—from better understanding of the technical side of food science and the chemical and microbiological aspects important in product development, to how to approach negotiating a salary. “I have learned to appreciate my worth, assert myself when needed and communicate professionally,” she said. Anna appreciates the chance to help with having those conversations that she had to navigate on her own as a young woman.

Both Anna and Aria have enjoyed being paired with others through the Mentor Program, but their special bond has and will endure. Aria sums it up, “This experience has shown me the power of mentorship. I was inspired to become a UGA Mentor Program Ambassador and actively encourage other students to participate in the program.”

Now is the perfect time to sign up to become a mentor. There is a student coming in the fall who can benefit from your experience.

On the fence?

Get the info you need to make an informed decision and learn about support the program offers mentors at UGA Mentor Program 101, a free webinar on Aug. 3 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. You will hear from successful mentor/mentee pairings, learn best practices for forming a strong connection and discover tips to become an effective mentor.