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‘Her Honor Mentoring’ offers valuable insights to high school students

February 19, 2024

Brianna Pello of Binghamton was just developing an interest in healthcare as a career when an inspirational mentorship program at UHS opened her eyes to the many possibilities available in the field.

Brianna, a 17-year-old senior at Binghamton High School, signed up for “Her Honor Mentoring,” which matches high school students with women who are top executives in their fields.

As a mentee of the program, Brianna meets regularly with her mentor, Carrie Davis, vice president for Communications & Marketing at UHS, learning about the wide range of careers in medicine and health, and gaining insights into areas in which she may want to specialize.

She has high praise for what she has learned and the professionals she has met.

“Without this, I wouldn’t have known exactly what to do to plan my education and my career,” she said.  “This is a great, one-to-one experience, and I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity.  It’s very informative and rewarding, and Carrie is a great person and mentor.”

Along the way, Brianna has received a personalized tour of UHS’ ultrasound service and its many diagnostic applications, as she has expressed an interest in possibly becoming an ultrasound technologist.

During this session, conducted by Prakash Ramanathan, director of Clinical Operations and Neuroscience Services at UHS, Brianna learned that ultrasound professionals are always in demand in healthcare, making the specialty a particularly good career path.

In addition to the clinical orientation provided by the program, Brianna has also gained knowledge about financial aid for college, how to apply for scholarships,  how to create your own “brand,” how to network, and the value of such personal finance efforts as proper budgeting and having a good credit score.

With the additional insights offered by the mentoring program, Brianna is building on strengths she has already cultivated:  In high school, she has a 99.65 grade point average and is on the high honor roll.  She has shown a lot of initiative outside of school as well, having had several jobs, including one at a local health club.

Ms. Davis said the experience of mentoring a promising student is rewarding as well for the UHS leaders committed to the program, and it’s inspiring to see Brianna make progress.

“I know that this has opened her eyes to college and career possibilities, and affirmed for her a career path she was already beginning to think about,” Ms. Davis said.  “She is demonstrating a lot of commitment to planning well for her own future.”

Continuing, Ms. Davis said:  “Her Honor Mentoring seeks to empower students via professional connections and the opportunity to earn money as they complete their journaling over the school year.”

Her Honor Mentoring was established in 2006 by TV’s famous Judith “Judge Judy” Sheindlin and her stepdaughter, attorney Nicole Sheindlin, said Kristina Schrull-Valiente, director of Cardiopulmonary, who coordinates HHM at UHS.

Nicole Sheindlin personally visited UHS to kick off the program in the Southern Tier and meet with the dedicated group of women at UHS Hospitals who are serving as mentors.

HHM starts with 10 hours of mentoring, plus feedback by the middle of the school year, for which the student earns $1,000. By repeating the process for 10 more hours, the student earns another $1,000.  UHS leaders commit to a minimum of 20 hours of contact time with the student.

A HERO grant of $2,000 is funded for each mentee, with UHS sponsoring four girls via a grant received from the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of South-Central New York.  Binghamton High School sponsors another five girls from a grant the school district received.

A former Manhattan Family Court Judge, Judith Sheindlin became nationally known as the no-nonsense star of “Judge Judy,” an arbitration-based reality court show that debuted on CBS in 1996, plus the new series, “Judy Justice.”

In partnership with her stepmother, Nicole Sheindlin started Her Honor Mentoring while working as a senior staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Bronx County, N.Y.

“We believe that connecting strong, positive female role models with young women doesn't just change one thing—it changes everything,” the Sheindlins said on the program’s website. “Mentoring is our tool to connect the needs of our public education system with powerful resources in the business community.”

So far, a number of women who are UHS senior leaders and managers have enthusiastically committed to becoming mentors. This year, the UHS mentors are: Anne DePugh, Irene Sabin, Kristina Schrull-Valiente, Laura Northrup, Leigh Briscoe-Dwyer, Lisa Stank, Mary Kielma, Rafaela Spence and Ms. Davis.

Brianna is grateful for the doors the program has opened for her.

“I love this,” she said.  “It has helped a lot.”