L to R: Gregg Keaney ’05 PhD and Maria-Elena Liosi ’22 PhD

Since its inception in April 2020, Cross Campus – Yale’s mentoring, networking, and community building platform – has created thousands of connections, between alumni and students and with the university. One of the most successful Cross Campus programs is mentorship – a series of one-to-one matches between students and alums to share experiences and impart wisdom.

Recently, one of those pairings – alum Gregg Keaney ’05 PhD (Chemistry) and graduate student Maria-Elena Liosi ’22 PhD (sixth-year graduate student in Chemistry) – reconnected to discuss their mentor-mentee pairing, what has made it so successful, and the benefits of connection.

Below is an edited version of their exchange:

Maria-Elena: I applied to be part of the Cross Campus Mentorship Program around March of 2021. So far, I have been connected with two alumni: Gregg was my first mentor – our official Cross Campus mentorship has ended, but we’ve continued our mentor-mentee dialogue – and Miho Kaneko ’15 PhD is my current mentor.

Gregg: Maria-Elena’s tremendous enthusiasm for science was evident from our initial conversation. I was excited to hear about her interest in making a positive impact on patients’ lives through a career in drug discovery in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry. Having decided to pursue such a career in drug discovery after receiving my PhD in organic chemistry for the same reasons, Maria-Elena and I were well matched to discuss her career interests and various career trajectories.

Maria-Elena: Gregg and I were introduced through Cross Campus right before I started applying for jobs. Having to make a decision for your career after the PhD can be really stressful. In my case, this time was full of uncertainty for the future, which was accentuated due to the pandemic. Ever since we met, Gregg has been fueling me with positive energy. He has been always available to meet, give me feedback, and generously provide me with his advice. Knowing that you have an advocate outside of your academic environment is a great privilege. Our interactions and discussions have been an amazing support for me and a big relief to my graduate school hardships and the job application anxiety.

Gregg: Maria-Elena took initiative to determine potential opportunities which suited her skills and interests, crafted her CV, and prepared her job interview presentation.

Maria-Elena: Gregg introduced me to people to expand my network in my field of interest and kept me informed about new opportunities to connect. Through this process and his guidance, I gained confidence for my skills. I was empowered to keep up the work for both my career journey and focus on my graduate school goals.

Gregg: I have genuinely enjoyed providing advice to graduate students to Yale through the Cross Campus mentoring program. As an alumni member of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association Executive Committee (2012-15) and a former member of the Yale Graduate School Assembly (2001-02) and Graduate and Professional Student Senate (2003-04), it feels great to continue engagement with Yale and the Department of Chemistry. As a mentor, I’m proud of Maria-Elena for her job search success and I’m very excited to see where she goes from Yale.

Maria-Elena: I feel extremely grateful that I have a mentor like Gregg. His genuine interest for my growth and his support have been helping me to prepare for my next career steps and to navigate stressful times, like the job search process. He always manages to provide me timely feedback and help, showing the value of our connection and his passion to mentor. I’ve been extremely appreciative about it. Gregg’s exemplar mentoring has been really inspiring for me. I’ve learned how powerful and transformative it can be to give some of your energy, share your experiences, and help people grow. I envision following his example to serve as a mentor and support young people with their career journey.