Protégé Profile: Meet Collin

An avid tennis player who loves to learn, Collin often finds himself balancing athletics with academic pursuits. He is vibrant, wise, and recently started sixth grade at a new school. Last year, Collin completed a Prime Mentors of Canada project with his volunteer mentor, Professor Guy Hamel. Their topic? The rather intricate subject of genetics. In this post, we catch up with Collin as he shares his thoughts on  genetics, presentations, and the importance of trusting others.

deoxyribonucleic-acidWhy Genetics?

Collin became interested in genetics after reading about the topic in the library. He’s fascinated by the idea that genes determine “the characteristics of yourself [not just] when you’re born, but also your future”.

About His Project

Evolution and adaptation, plant evolution, heredity, and chromosomes are just some of the topics in genetics that Collin researched with Professor Hamel.  Early in the project, Collin recognized that the topic would be challenging since “genetics is a very complicated subject. Every day something new comes up.”  Collin was able to explore some of these developments since Professor Hamel would bring in news items for them to discuss.

Working with a Mentor

The aspect of the project Collin found most enjoyable was the opportunity to work with a mentor. “Everybody in this world has something to learn. If you take time to share things, most of the time, it makes you understand and that helps you be wise.”

Collin’s advice for any student starting a PMC project is to “put trust in their mentors.” Cooperating and putting trust in each other will make the project better and help the presentation go smoothly.

Collin and Professor Guy Hamel
Collin and Professor Guy Hamel

Presentation Time!

Every PMC project wraps up with a presentation. Collin likes presentations and thinks it’s important to start practicing at a young age. For his presentation, Collin wanted to take the information he learned about genetics and then “shorten and simplify”.  He wanted to make sure he would be understood easily and that the presentation would be interactive.

Professor Hamel helped Collin work towards the presentation from early on by providing reflective questions. He also guided Collin through the process of setting a goal for the presentation and structuring his presentation to achieve that goal.

Collin presented to his Grade 5 class on April 16th. It was so successful that he was invited to present to Grade 4 students in June. For his work, Collin was awarded the Prime Mentors of Canada Conchita Tan-Willman Scholarship.

Life Outside Academics

Collin describes his experience with PMC as “a big thing that has happened in my life” but it’s far from his only achievement this year. In August, Collin played in the Mini Rogers Cup for under-12 tennis players and won first place in the boys’ doubles competition. This awarded Collin the chance to play his peers at Centre Court at the Rogers Cup ahead of a professional match.

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A Message from Collin to Professor Hamel

To wrap up this post, Collin wants to share a message for his mentor, Professor Guy Hamel:

“It’s been an honour to work with you. Thank you very much. I don’t know how I would have gotten through without you.”


Visit the Prime Mentors of Canada website to learn more about our protégés or how you can get involved!

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Prime Mentors Community Building Project Grants – Highlights from Spring 2015!

During our annual Prime Mentors Youth Leadership Conference this year, participants were asked to consider ways that they could make a difference in their school communities. They are then asked to work with others in their schools, with the support of a staff member, and develop an action plan that has the potential to improve school life for students in the school. These projects are intended to be short term (completed during the spring term) and Prime Mentors of Canada awards up to $150 to fund each project.

Here are three highlights from the projects that were undertaken this spring!

Anti-Bullying Club
Two grade 6 girls proposed to address the problem of bullying at school. They started an anti-bullying club to encourage a core of committed students to take initiatives to stamp out bullying. Activity days and special assemblies were planned. The club provides a way to help students speak up about bullying issues and hence reduce the problem

Bagels & Business Experience
Two grade 6 boys noticed that students at their school often had lunches delivered late during lunchtime, resulting in little time to eat. They partnered with local restaurants to have bagels and cream cheese delivered on certain days which would be available for sale. The two boys gained business experience while providing a convenient lunch option for their schoolmates.

Bake Sale to Support Ronald McDonald House
Students at one school applied for a grant to fund a current project that involved organizing a bake sale to contribute to Ronald McDonald House. The money was used to purchase baking supplies. In addition to raising money for Ronald McDonald House, we’re sure the community enjoyed the homemade baked goods as well!

Please visit our website to learn more about other Prime Mentor of Canada initiatives or to donate.

What It’s Like to be a Volunteer Mentor with Prime Mentors

Hi everyone,

This is Winnie and I’m your guest blogger for this post. I’ve volunteered as a mentor with Prime Mentors of Canada five times and I’m not done yet!

Here’s some information on what to expect if you decide to volunteer with Prime Mentors:

  1. You’ll receive training during an orientation session and support throughout your time as a volunteer.
  2. You’ll be matched up with a student depending on your preferred location within Toronto and your interests.
  3. You’ll work with the student for about one hour a week during school hours, for about 10 weeks, on an extracurricular project that the student is interested in completing.
  4. The project is capped off with a presentation by the student in front of his/her class and invited guests (parents, school staff, other Prime Mentors volunteers).

Now here are some of my tips for mentoring:

  1. Be open to learning about a brand new topic! The projects I’ve mentored on include photography and photo editing, the Big Bang and the Big Crunch, and AC/DC (yes, the rock band!). I wasn’t familiar with any of these subjects so I had the opportunity to learn with the student.
notes from AC/DC project
Notes from AC/DC project
  1. Keep the presentation in mind! Work towards the presentation from early on.
  2. Be ready to be surprised! Unexpected things will come up. Some might be frustrating but others will be fun and amazing. For one presentation we changed the presentation time multiple times when one scheduling conflict came up after another. During another presentation on Photography and Photo Editing the student brought in Jello to share with the class since gelatin is used in photo development and it’s a key ingredient in Jello.
  3. Even when you’re the mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance! Prime Mentors program coordinators, school staff, and other volunteers are great resources.

By the time the project comes to an end you’ll have put in work, just like the student, and just like the student, you will have learned something worthwhile. If you live in Toronto and you can find the time, please consider volunteering with Prime Mentors of Canada!

If you have any questions about volunteering with Prime Mentors or if you have any tips to share, feel free to leave a comment!

Check out the website to learn more about becoming a volunteer with Prime Mentors of Canada. The first orientation session is Sunday, August 30 and additional sessions will be held throughout the fall. Please email or call 416-267-9938 for details or to sign up.

Orientation sessions will be held in the fall.