A virtual community mentorship program for development in Colombia

The RECA mentor program accompanies undergraduate students from science and engineering careers through their graduate application process. This program pairs senior undergraduate students with mentors, who are professional astronomers (researchers, postdocs, PhD candidates, astronomers currently working in industry). The team provide material and guidance to junior students, through panels and workshops focusing on the possible career paths in astronomy, development of soft and hard skills, sharing experiences of fellow astronomers, who have worked both within and outside of academia, in various countries and areas of astronomy.


  • Introduction and closing meetings: We conducted these video calls to explain the dynamics of the program, as well as present the results of the previous program to the new selected students and mentors
  • Panels: open to students from both modalities and mentors, and were completely virtual. Most of the panels are available on the RECA youtube page with Spanish closed caption subtitles, so those students and mentors who could not attend during the panel video call can watch them, as well as anyone else interested.
  • Python training bootcamp: Taught basic programming skills in python language, as well as tools used in astronomy, useful for developing projects with archival data.
  • Interview simulation: Conducted an interview exercise with some of the students in the program: from those who attended the motivation letter workshop, we requested a motivation letter for a desired application (school or graduate program), then we conducted interviews (half in English and half in Spanish) to simulate the interview process of the students. Afterwards we provided feedback on the documents and performance during the interview.



  • We conducted surveys throughout the program, with a mid-term and final survey for both students and mentors. Over half (~55%) of the students attended the panels, and those who didn’t attend the live-panel watched the uploaded videos (~91%).
  • The frequency of the student-mentor meetings varied between 1-2 meetings per semester to weekly or bi-weekly meetings. Therefore, the connection between mentors and students was established. Furthermore, ~67% of the students established relations with other members of the colombian astronomy community beyond their assigned mentor.
  • 82% of the students felt that they achieved the goals established at the beginning of the mentorship (36.4% with partial results)
  • 64% of the students applied to summer/winter schools or internships and 87.5% of them got accepted into the programm(s) they applied to. By the end of the 2022 program, 27% of students had applied to graduate programs (18% of them were accepted and 9% were waiting for answers from their applications), 82% of the students were planning to apply the following semester. 91% of the students indicated that the program helped their application process. Partial results from the current program show that some students have already been accepted into graduate programs (masters and PhD), while some of them have decided to continue to work in the industry (Engineering, Data science etc).
  • All mentors considered the goals were reached either completely or partially (20%). 40% of mentors were interested in participating in the organizing committee of the following year, showing engagement and interest in improving the program.
  • The program has helped improve the access of Colombian students to research experience, 12 students developed short research projects in different areas (galaxies, black holes, cosmology, star, supernovae, planets, among others). These projects were presented in a symposium on the Youtube channel of the Astronomy program of the Antioquia University. Available at : https://www.youtube.com/live/Qgds21XstP4?feature=share and https://www.youtube.com/live/aYhFvQtBk4M?feature=share. They also had access to remote observations and 2 of the projects have resulted in manuscripts


Module cannot be rendered as the requested content is not (longer) accessible. Contact the administrator to get access.