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White House awards Cal Poly Pomona professor for excellence in mentoring

17COLLINSgrad
Tom Zasadzinski
/
Cal Poly Pomona
Dr. Winny Dong of the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at Cal Poly Pomona.

A Cal Poly Pomona professor has been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

Dr. Winny Dong was just one of 12 individuals to receive the award from President Joe Biden, which is the nation's highest honor for mathematics and science mentors.

Dr. Dong says she's honored to receive the award and discussed how her father, an immigrant from Taiwan, has always been a big inspiration for her throughout her career.

"He eventually went on to get a Ph.D. in physics in the United States and became a professor in engineering at Cal State Long Beach, and that's what led me into being a teacher, a professor at Cal State teaching engineering," said Dong.

She has been an engineering professor at Cal Poly Pomona since 2000. Currently, she is the director of the school's McNair Scholars Program, which serves 28 new first-generation college students every year.

"I see helping them kind of like paying back the teachers who helped my dad and certainly made a difference in the kind of life I've had," said Dong.

Professor Dong is also the founder and Faculty Director of the school's Office of Undergraduate Research, which serves over 1,000 students. She hopes the program will continue to grow and is now assisting other universities in creating similar programs.