Mentors support learners from kindergarten through the collegiate levels, as well as those who recently started their careers in STEM. Mentors share their expertise and guidance with learners, sometimes through formal mentoring programs. Mentors have demonstrated impact on individuals historically underrepresented in STEM.
"The Presidential Award is one of the greatest highlights of my career for it is formal recognition of my commitment to be a servant leader and role model to our youth,” Charles said. “Throughout my career, I have tried to inspire students, especially minorities, to strive for excellence.”
Charles, who works in NRL's Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering, conducts research in the design of novel sensors for the detection of explosives and environmental contaminants and sensors for unmanned underwater vehicles.
He has served for more than 15 years as the director of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored NRL summer internship program for underrepresented minority undergraduate, graduate, and Postdoctoral students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities and/or Minority Institutions. This multi-component, comprehensive program encourages talented students to pursue graduate degrees in STEM by providing a 10-week hands-on research and mentoring experience with NRL scientists.
Charles has implemented scientific seminars and workshops, professional development activities, and team-building events to enhance their NRL summer experience. Under Charles’ leadership, over 400 students have matriculated through the program with many having received advanced degrees.
“Knowledge and wisdom are among the gifts bestowed by a mentor,” said Charles. “Being able to provide a learning platform to instill confidence and empower youth to succeed can have a positive impact on the life of a student and mine as well."
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL headquarters is located in Washington, D.C., with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, Key West, Florida, and Monterey, California, and employs approximately 2,500 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.