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A mentoring program for students who desire to maximize their STEM educational experience.

Welcome to STEMHAWKS!

STEMHAWKS is a NOVA mentoring program designed to assist STEM students achieve their goals by providing academic and career path services. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEMHAWKS is governed by the Division of Math, Science, Technology, and Business (MSTB) on the Annandale Campus. All NOVA STEM students are encouraged to take advantage of the program regardless of campus affiliation. What follows is a guide to STEMHAWKS' program of operation.


Professional Development


To be a STEM centered student development program


With the values of STEM, excellence, and achievement, the mission of STEMHAWKS is to provide outreach, mentoring, research opportunities, and career development services to students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by using the resources of NOVA faculty and facilities to ensure that students have every opportunity to succeed while in college and after they graduate.

STEMHAWKS Application

Development Process

Stage One

STEMHAWKS recruits then inputs STEM students through its internal and external outreach efforts.

Stage Two

STEMHAWKS processes STEM students by providing faculty mentoring and advising, outreach services, internships, research opportunities, STEM related education and training activities, and tutoring and coaching.

Stage Three

STEMHAWKS outputs graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Stage Four

STEMHAWKS' outcomes are twofold; to produce students who are qualified to transfer to four-year universities and/or enter the workforce as experts in their field of study.

Associate of Science Degree
Computer Science Engineering Information Technology Science Mathematics Specialization
Associate of Applied Science Degree
Agriculture Biotechnology Computer & Electronics Technology Cyber Security
Dental Hygiene Diagnostic Medical Sonography Electrical Technology for the Technical Studies Emergency Medical Services
Engineering Technology Health Information Management Horticulture Technology Information Systems Technology
Medical Laboratory Technology Nursing Occupational Therapy Assistant Physical Therapist Assistant
Radiography Respiratory Therapy Veterinary Technology



Associate of Science Degree (A.S.)

Awarded for the completion of two-year curricula in a variety of pre-professional programs. The A.S. degree is designed for those who plan to transfer to a four-year, degree-granting institution for the completion of a Bachelor of Science (B.S.).

Associate of Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.)

Awarded for completion of two-year curricula designed to prepare the student for employment in a technical field immediately following graduation. In some A.A.S. degree programs one or more Summer Sessions may be required. These curricula are not designed for transfer to a four-year college or university. However, in some limited cases, career courses may transfer, and there may be articulation arrangements with four-year colleges as part of a special program.

Career Studies Certificate (C.S.C.)

Awarded for a specific group of career-related courses totaling between 9 and 29 credits. Career studies programs are designed for enhancement of job/life skills, retraining for career changes, and/or investigating new career possibilities. Credit earned in most career studies certificates may be used to meet the requirements in certificate and degree programs that require similar courses. Most certificates prepare the student for a specific job or aspect of a job. Some certificates are part of an associate degree program, in which case the credit earned in the certificate may be used toward the degree. These curricula typically are not designed for transfer to a four-year college or university.

Certificate (C.)

Awared for the completion of various curricula of study less than two years in length, totaling between 30 and 59 credits, at least 15 percent of the credits must be in general education. This must include at least three semester credits of English (ENG) and at least one semester credit for a Student Development (SDV) course.


STEMHAWKS' goal is to provide students with services that will enhance their NOVA educational experience. The STEMHAWKS faculty and staff are the primary service providers and are tasked with ensuring that STEMHAWKS' students benefit from the program's services. The STEMHAWKS' primary services are as follows.

  • Mentor NOVA STEM students.
  • Tutor and connect NOVA STEM students with the appropriate tutoring service.
  • Serve as an advisor to assist NOVA STEM students achieve their desired outcomes.
  • Evaluate NOVA STEM students' academic progress using formative and summative methods established by the STEMHAWKS administration.
  • Engage  in outreach with the goal of attracting and supporting potential NOVA STEM students.
  • Provide  pathways to baccalaureate programs in the sicences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Create research opportunities and provide students with guidance as they endeavor to conduct research. 
  • Coordinate with STEM based organizations to develop internships for mentees.  
Indicators of Success

STEMHAWKS primary objective is to provide the means for students to achieve their STEM goals. To ensure this objective is met, STEMHAWKS employs a continuous evaluation process using multiple measures to determine program success. The first step in measuring student success is to identify and define STEM students' outcomes while in the program then determine if these outcomes are met. In most cases, outcomes require longitudinal data meaning that STEMHAWKS must track STEM students well after they have separated from NOVA. Therefore, STEMHAWKS will implement social media and NOVA Alumni Federation to connect with STEM students over time (See Appendix C).

STEMHAWKS will use formative and summative evaluative methods with the latter being used to determine outcomes. Summative evaluative methods will produce data that results in STEMHAWKS student satisfaction with the program. An example of a summative evaluation designed to determine student satisfaction is found in table one. STEMHAWKS will employ interviews, focus groups, discussions, questionnaires, anecdotal evidence, indexes, and reports to evaluate STEM student success.

Mentee's Role

STEMHAWKS is a voluntary program for students who desire to maximize their STEM educational experience. The role of the metee in the STEMHAWKS program is defined by a list of behaviors that mentees are expected to exhibit. Any mentee who cannot behave in accordance with their role will be asked to leave the program. STEMHAWKS mentees are expected to do the following:

Mentees Must

  • Interact  with your STEMHAWKS mentors on a regular basis.
  • Conduct yourself morally and ethically both on campus and off campus.
  • Model prosocial behavior when interacting with peers, mentors and NOVA faculty and staff.
  • Attend at least ONE STEM sponsored science event each semester.

Mentees Should Try To

  • Engage in STEM sponsored research activities.
  • Participate in a STEM internship.
  • Maintain good academic standing as defined by Northern Virginia Community College.
  • Promote the STEMHAWKS program and Northern Virginia Community College.
Meet the Mentors
Ken Darensbourg

Ken Darensbourg

Professor, Communication Studies
Doctorate, Gallaudet University
Master's Degree, California State University, Northridge
Bachelor's Degree, California State University, Northridge

Office: CM 116
Phone: 703.362.5571
Email: kdarensbourg@nvcc.edu

Dr. Darensbourg has taught for more than 25 years in higher education. Ten of those years he spent at NOVA. He has held positions with private corporations and government agencies for more than 10 years. He was on a triathalon team in college and still trains and competes in races.

Mihaela Chamberlin

Mihaela Chamberlin

Associate Professor, Chemistry
Postdoctorate Fellow, John Hopkins University, School of Medicine
Doctorate, University of Maryland
Bachelor's Degree, University of Bucharest, Romania

Office: CS 244-A
Phone: 703.425.5130
Email: mchamberlin@nvcc.edu

Dr. Chamberlin has been teaching various chemistry courses at NOVA since 2010. Before then she worked for a number of years in biomedical research. She is interested in mentoring students, and involving some of her students in research projects. In her free time, she likes taking pictures and chilling out with her husband and their cat, Ginger.

Alexander Bohn

Alexander Bohn

Assistant Professor, Physics
MS Electrical Engineering, Northeastern University
MS Physics, California State University, Los Angeles
BS Physics, Baldwin-Wallace College

Email: abohn@nvcc.edu 

Bohn joined the NOVA faculty family in fall of 2017, and has worked in higher education for seven years. (He's also worked in battery retail/repair and acoustical manufacturing/sales!). His research background is in acoustics, especially focused on waveguide propagation modeling and receiver array processing (applied to commercial fish populations and marine mammals). Since joining NOVA, he has taught physics and electrical engineering courses, and is the advisor of the Physics Club. When he's not doing that, Alex sometimes plays Magic: The Gathering, and likes to Netflix-and-chill with his wife and their dog.

Peter Bryan

Peter Bryan

Associate Professor, Biology
Postdoctorate Fellow, The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center.
Doctorate - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Howard University College of Medicine
Masters Degree - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Howard University College of Medicine
Bachelors Degree - Biology, Howard University

Office: CG 211-O
Phone: 703.323.4250
Email: pbryan@nvcc.edu

Peter Bryan was born and raised in the DC Metropolitan area where he attended Howard University and earned a B.S. in Biology. After a year in medical school, Peter decided to pursue a career in research and completed his graduate training for both an M.S. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Moleculary Biology in the College of Medicine at Howard University. Peter's research concentrated on the field of neonatal gastroenterology and his dissertation focused on analyzing the gastrointestinal tract microbiome of premature infants with mecrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), in an attempt to correlate the presence of microbes with the onset oand development of the disease. Upon completion of graduate school, Peter began his post doctoral training in a fellowship at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Georgetown University Medical Center. There, he designed and analyzed novel anti-carcinogenic compounds that epigenetically manipulate cancer genomes. During this fellowship, Peter began instructing chemistry, anatomy and physiology at UDC and biology at both Alexandria and Annandale campuses of NVCC. In the spring semester of 2018, Peter joined the full-time faculty in the biology department of the Annandale campus and in addition to his instructional responsibilities, he is presently spearheading a partnership with INOVA SCHAR CANCER INSTITUTE that will allow NOVA students the opportunity to learn and master cancer biology techniques in an attempt to foster an interest in STEM research career paths.

Callan Bentley

Callan Bentley

Assistant Professor, Geology
Masters Degree, Science Education, Montana State University.
Masters Degree, Geology, University of Maryland, College Park.
Bachelors Degree, Geology, College of William & Mary.

Email: cbentley@nvcc.edu

Callan Bentley is an assistant professor of geology at Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus. He teaches mainly Physical Geology and Historical Geology, two introductory courses on the composition, function, and history of planet Earth. In addition, Callan has developed new courses including Snowball Earth, Regional Field Geology of the Northern Rockies, Regional Field Geology of the Canadian Rockies, and Regional Field Geology of Eastern California.

Since starting at NOVA in 2006, Callan has given almost 100 public talks and field trips at venues across the Metro region and another 100 talks or posters at professional meetings around the country and the world. In addition to publishing in the professional scientific literature, Callan is a Contributing Editor for EARTH magazine, contributing book reviews, travel stories, and cartoons. He has served as newsletter editor for the two-year-college division (Geo2YC) of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) and the eastern section of NAGT, and is now the President of the Geo2YC. Callan is the President of the Geological Society of Washington (GSW), and has previously served GSW as Councilor, Meeting Secretary, Executive Secretary, and Vice President. In additon to writing his popular geology blog Mountain Beltway, Callan was a contributor to five geology and Earth science textbooks published by Pearson and is under contract to write another as lead author. He has become known as an innovator in digital geology, in particular for the use of GigaPan images of outcrops and samples, a technique that allows "virtual field experiences" for distance learners and students with disabilities.

Callan has also taught for George Mason University (structual geology), George Washington University, the Audobon Naturalist Society/USDA Grad School, and the Smithsonian Associates program. Each summer, he teaches a "Geology of Glacier National Park" field course for Montana State University.

Callan was a 2010 Fellow of the Fine Outreach for Science Initiative. Callan has been nominated for Faculty of the Year for 5 of the 12 years he has worked at NOVA. He won the Golden Apple award in 2007. The Virginia Community College System named Callan as the recipient of the 2012 Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence. NOVA honored him with the Presidential Sabbatical Award in 2013. He receives the Biggs Award for Geoscience Teaching Excellence from the Geoscience Education Division of the Geological Society of America in 2014. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recognized Callan with the Outstanding Faculty Award in 2015. During the 2015-2017 academic years, Callan served as the Chancellor's Commonwealth Professor of Geology. He was named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2017. The National Association of Geoscience Teachers recognized his online outreach work with the Jim Shea Award in 2018.

He lives with his wife Lily and their son Baxter in the Fort Valley of western Virginia.

Kumnit Nong

Kumnit Nong

Assistant Professor, Mathematics
Masters Degree, Mathematics.
Masters Degree, Computation Science in Fluid Dynamic.
Bachelors Degree,

Email: knong@nvcc.edu 

Professor Nong was a NOVA alumnus and returned to NOVA as a professor in 2009. He is interested in STEM app development and Ping Pong. As an immigrant, he began his education career in ESL courses. He understands the challenge of other immigrant and minority students.

Ilya Temkin

Ilya Temkin

Professor of Biology
Doctorate, New Yor University
Bachelors Degree, Columbia University

Office: CG 211M
Phone: 347.922.1212
Email: itemkin@nvcc.edu 

Ilya Temkin is an interdisciplinary scientist who studies how evolution works in nature and in human culture. An expert on bivalve mollusks, he analyzes the relative roles that ecology, history, and ontogeny play in diversification and evolution of organic form. As a musical instrument specialist (and a passionate musician), Ilya explores the question to what extent the mechanisms of information transmission and historical change in human culture mirror evolutionary changes in living systems using musical instrument design as a model system. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the American Museum of Natural History (New York) and the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.), and a visiting curator at Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris). He published on evolutionary theory, molluscan biology, and human cultural evolution. Most recently, he co-edited Evolutionary Theory: A Hierarchical Perspective (Chicago University Press, 2016). Ilya's scientific contributions received many awards and grants, including those from National Science Foundation and John Templeton Foundation.


Yohannes Tesema

Yohannes Tesema

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke University
Doctorate, Howard University
Bachelors Degree, Addis Ababs University, Ethiopia

Office: CS 244C
Phone: 703.764.5028
Email: ytesema@nvcc.edu 

Dr. Tesema has been teaching chemistry at NOVA since 2010. He enjoys playing (poorly) and watching soccer.

Habibe Aksoy

Habibe S. Aksoy

Chemistry Adjunct Faculty
Masters Degree, Selcuk University, Turkey
Bachelors Degree, Selcuk University, Turkey

Office: MC 333 Colgan Hall
Phone: 703.257.6644
Email: haksoy@nvcc.edu 

Aksoy has taught diverse student populations for more than 8 years and more than two years in higher education. She also worked as an advisor, coordinator, and consoler in various educational and cultural associations in both Turkey and the U.S. She enjoys arranging activities, both on and off campus, to help students achieve goals and develop their interests and abilities.

Scholarship & Internship Opportunities

Mentor Information

General Information

STEMHAWKS Mentor Defined

The primary responsibility of a STEMHAWKS mentor is to provide academic, professional, and emotional support to STEM students.

STEMHAWKS Mentor Roles

There are a variety of roles available for STEMHAWKS mentors to perform. Mentors can contribute as academic and/or career advisors, outreach specialists, research instructors, STEM event coordinators, internship managers, and program administrators. STEMHAWKS mentors are not limited to one role but are expected to fulfill one role for a minimum of one academic year to ensure mentees' experience is structured and consistent.

Mentor Training and Support

A brief training session will be available at the beginning of each semester. You must participate to become a mentor. Please contact Mihaela Chamberlin at mchamberlin@nvcc.edu  or Kennith Darensbourg at kdarensbourg@nvcc.edu for details. Mentors will have meetings once every semester in person or virtually, to share experiences, and support each other. At these times, additional mentor training will be provided as needed. 

Mentor Guidelines

Meet With Your Mentee(s)

at least once every three (3) to four (4) weeks, on campus. Conduct meetings just as you would conduct regular office hours (in your office or in the Science Learning Center, doors open). Document each meeting briefly in the "Navigate Campus" system located in MyNOVA (this can be beneficial for the mentee and the mentor). Please remember you serve as a model for your mentees, just as you do for your students (see Appendix A.)

Follow College Policy

Become familiar with Northern Virginia Community College's Faculty and Student Handbooks. Both are outstanding resources for defining boundaries and what is and is not acceptable behavior when mentoring students. Additionally, the Dean of Students Office (CA 315) will assist your regarding the proper mentoring of students. All actions that violate College Policy, and/or State or Federal law must be reported immediately.

Establish Boundaries

Before meeting with your mentees, establish boundaries for what your will discuss with them and do for them. Keep in mind that whatever you say and do will be interpreted by the mentee as expected behavior; that if you do it once that you will do it again. Before saying or doing anything, think of the second and third order effects and if you're willing or able to live up to and accept the possible outcomes.

Listen With Empathy

When meeting with mentees, listen to understand what they are saying. Listen to the content of their words (verbally) and what they are saying emotionally (nonverbally). Listen for patterns of behavior and significant events mentioned to assist you to better understand mentees' conditions. For sensitive issues, repeat what mentees have said then ask if you repeated it accurately. Do not solve mentees' problems; instead, give them the tools to solve their problems and provide guidance.

Model Prosocial Behavior

A mentor should be altruistic. A mentor's only reward for mentoring is the satisfaction derived from seeing their mentees succeed. Make certain that mentees understand that your relationships are not predicated on a quid pro quo or exchange. Although a mentor may use their involvement as a mentor as part of their professional evaluation, a mentor should not state or indicate their involvement as the lone indicator of their mentees' performances and/or successes.

Create a Team

Build a team of stake holders that will help mentees reach their goals. Some stakeholders to put on the mentoring team are mentees' current instructors, academic advisors, Learning & Technology Resources' departments (Academic Support Services, Campus Library, Open Computer Labs, and Testing Centers), Dean of Students Office (Student Life Office, Student Services, Advising and Counseling), applicable administrative offices, career advisors, mentees family and friends, subject matter experts and/or role models, and other mentors and mentees in the Man Up program.

Set and Visualize Goals and Milestones

Something visualized is something achieved. Mentors should help mentees establish goals (outcomes) and milestones (indicators of progress towards the goals). As goals and milestones are created, the mentor should help their mentees visualize the journey to goal attainment. Having an illustrative discussion, using examples, and providing analogies will aid in visually walking mentees through the process of reaching their goals thus making it easier for them to achieve their goals.

Have the Right Mindset

Reassure mentees that problems and issues are normal, part of the learning process, and that the only consistent factor that leads to academic, career, and personal success is determination. Do not discourage mentees or pass judgement but be realistic with them. Always keep in mind that it could be one of your mentees that attempts and succeeeds at achieving something that has never been achieved. Keep mentees future focused: use past transgressions as cautionary lessons and successes as motivators that when examined, move mentees towards acheiving their goals.

Become a Student

View your mentee as you would an instructor. Have your mentees teach you the way that will best lead to their success. Come to mentee-mentor meetings prepared to ask mentees questions for knowledge and clarification. Like any good student, use mindful inquiry techniques by starting with broad questions that progress to more focused questions. Take notes for later review and documentation. If a mentee asks a question or poses a problem that you do not know the answer to or have an immediate solution; do not guess or make something up that sounds good. Instead, tell mentees that they asked a good question or identified a real problem and that you will work with them to get the answer or solution. Next, employ research techniques with mentees to find the correct answer or solution.

Mentee Problem Solving

Mentees who need academic assistance may require extra attention. Identifying triggers of the problem is the first step in helping the mentee succeed. Some problems a mentee may need additional assistance with are:


  • Culture Shock
  • Discrimination
  • Financial Aid
  • Institutional Factors
  • Lack of Experience
  • Language Issues
  • Learning Malady
  • Life Issues
  • Poor Study Habits
  • Technology Gap
  • Test Apprehension
  • Transportation

Northern Virginia Community College has many resources that can assist a mentee in overcoming barrers to achieving academically. Unfortunately, some barriers cannot be solved by NOVA. Here are the resources that exist to assist mentees achieve academic success.


Mentors should use the Harm Assessment Matrix to determine what to do when presented with a mentee life problem. Vector the Severity of Harm with the Probability of Negative Outcome to get the Harm Level/Color. Use the vectored Harm Level to determine the Action to Take Based on the Assessment (vector/color).

Mentoring Strategy

Effective mentoring requires a structured process or strategy. Strategies are fluid processes that focus on implementation or doing. Strategies allow for multiple opportunities for success, are highly adaptable to change meaning they are not constrained by time, people or environment, can be implemented in concert with other strategies, allow for scheming, and are time tested and proven.

A strategy is superior to a plan because plans are inflexible whereas strategies are not. Plans only work if there are no unexpected occurrences which invariably will happen. To quote "Iron" Mike Tyson, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." When mentors employ a plan-of-action in hopes of acheiving success, those mentors are putting at risk any chance of success if the plan fails. Mentors that employ a strategy are more likely to succeed because they are focused on the endgame and not a series of steps.

Using the definitions below, work with your mentee to create a strategy that will lead to academic and career success as they define it. Work with each of your mentees to put to paper their definition of the eight elements - endgame, goals, resources, methods, guiding principles, scheming, evaluation, and communication - and use them as the structured process or strategy for academic and career success. Refer to the strategy as needed when making changes for improvement when necessary.

Developing a Mentoring Strategy


The endgame is the inspirational outcome or result of the strategy.


Goals are the outputs that must be achieved to reach the endgame. They are major and minor milestones that when achieved should signify a pathway to the endgame.


These are the assets, tangible and intangible, that the leader must use to assist in reaching the goals and the endgame.


Method is the system, process, or institutions that provides structure or the framework for the strategy. It guides the actions of mentor and mentee. It's the map. If you've ever said to a group "this is how we're going to do this" then you understand method.

Guiding Principles

Guiding principles are the rules - ethics and morals - that provide limits to what is and is not acceptable behavior when implementing a strategy.


Scheming is patterns of behavior designed for contingencies to ensure that the strategy remains fluid to changes in personnel, the situation, and the environment.


Evaluation is the assessment of the strategy. It insures that the best course of action will happen. Evaluation is a continual process that should be used always.


This section identifies the ways the team will effectively interact and report. It can include frequency, media, resident knowledge, rules, hierarchy, meetings, environment, confidentiality, and inclusion.