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Mentoring Reignites Chemist's Love of Teaching

Published March 27, 2019

Mentoring Reignited Chemists Love for Teaching
Dessy Natalia

Dessy Natalia, PhD
Urban Action Academy

Dessy Natalia has lived in a lot of places. Originally from Paradise Island in Bali, Dessy received her undergraduate degree in Indonesia, her Masters degree in Belgium, and her chemistry PhD in Germany. After moving to the U.S. following her PhD studies, Dr. Natalia was looking for a way to get out of the lab and volunteer. That's when she learned about the Academy's Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program. Though she didn't have formal teaching experience at that point, she had served as a research assistant during her studies and had also served as a mentor, loving every minute of it.


“I’ve always loved teaching, and when I saw the opportunity, I took it!”
- Dessy Natalia, PhD


Serving as an afterschool STEM mentor for the Academy helped reignite Dr. Natalia’s love for teaching, so much so that she now teaches chemistry to high school students at Urban Action Academy in Brooklyn. Learn more about her experience below.

Why did you choose to teach chemistry?
I’ve loved chemistry since high school. Chemistry is a fascinating subject with a good balance between theory and application, as well as conceptual and math skills. Once I started conducting experiments, I loved it even more.

What was it like being a mentor in the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program?
I was mentoring a class of fourth and fifth graders in forensic science at Public School 19 in New York City and it was an amazing experience. I was paired with another mentor, a researcher from Mount Sinai, and we had the students identifying patterns left from shoes at a faux crime scene, as well as looking at hair structures using microscopes. The kids loved the activities and were very engaged.

Why did the program inspire you to become a teacher?
The program reminded me that I love to teach. Seeing those curious eyes and how eager they were to investigate while we did science activities inspired me. They make me believe that I can be a good teacher and they make me want to be a better teacher every day.

What do you love about teaching?
I love spreading the love of science, the importance of curiosity, and the scientific method. I love to see the awe in the students’ eyes when they learn something new.

Get inspired today by signing up to be a mentor in one of our STEM programs.