There are many benefits to being a mentor to a student with a disability. Mentors' personal communication about their hard-earned experiences contributes to the personal, academic, and professional growth of students with disabilities, many of whom may not have seen themselves as professionals. In this way, mentors contribute to the participation of students with disabilities in fields in which they are traditionally underrepresented - science, mathematics, and technology.

Mentors develop their own personal styles for sharing their skills and knowledge via electronic communication. As they work with their proteges, mentors clarify their self-knowledge, improve their communication skills, and gain different perspectives on both disability and careers. They also earn the respect of their colleagues as individuals who have the ability to encourage and promote others.

Mentors share in the lives of motivated young people. Listening to them, hearing about their dreams, helping them along the road to success - it's fun!

DO-IT is an example of a program that encourages one-to-one communication between proteges and mentors via electronic mail and facilitates communication in small groups through the use of electronic discussion lists. Some mentors meet their proteges during summer study programs at the University of Washington and at other DO-IT activities across the United States. In-person contact strengthens relationships formed online.

DO-IT stands for Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology. For more information about mentoring, consult the video and publication Opening Doors: Mentoring on the Internet. The DO-IT Mentor Application is also available online.