From Mentor to Marlborough

As a graduate student at the University of Southern California, Ponzio served as an Honors Research mentor, working with Marlborough girls. It was then she realized the determination that the Marlborough students brought to their work. “It’s so refreshing to see girls so passionately pursuing their dreams.”

When Allison Ponzio was a sophomore in college, she started peer tutoring psychological statistics students. Her sessions got so popular that she began planning mini-lectures and had to book a classroom to accommodate the group. At the end of each session, she was exhausted but extremely fulfilled. “When I laid in bed at night, I schemed about how I could teach about research for real. The more time I spent in research labs mentoring students, the more I knew I was meant to have a job like this.”

Ten years after stating those peer tutoring sessions, Dr. Allison Ponzio’s dreams have come true. As Marlborough's new HOnors Research in Science Program Head, Ponzio works to provide opportunities for her students to not only observe how real-world research is conducted but also to get their hands dirty in the process. “There is no better way to learn than by doing, and that is the hallmark of the program,” says Ponzio.

In 2007, the Leonetti/O’Connell Family Endowed Fund was established at Marlborough School to support the Honors Research in Science Program and provide selected juniors and seniors with the opportunity to define, design, and conduct original, “real world” research at nationally renowned facilities and institutions throughout the greater Los Angeles area. The girls get involved in every aspect of science, from grant writing to working at the lab bench to recruiting participants to presenting results. They develop surveys, recruit participants, sleuth articles, run lab tests, scan brains, and have the opportunity to make a huge impact on their mentor’s research.

“Our students not only learn how a real science laboratory operates, but they learn the life skills necessary to grit through the challenging and sporadically rewarding life of a researcher,” said Ponzio. “Research is complicated! It comes with amazing highs, but requires day-to-day tenacity and persistence.” 

As a graduate student at the University of Southern California, Ponzio served as one of these mentors herself, working with about a dozen undergraduate students, as well as two Marlborough girls. It was then she realized the determination that the Marlborough students brought to their work. “It’s so refreshing to see girls so passionately pursuing their dreams.”

As Ponzio looks ahead to the future of the program, she hopes to grow it by enhancing research on campus. “Becoming a critical consumer of content was one of the best tools that I gained in graduate school, and I think it is a benefit no matter what field of study you end up pursuing.” 
 


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