A diverse group of middle school and high school students, some from Summit, spent their spring break participating in career workshops, panel discussions with senior company leaders, a healthcare policy debate, a mock marketing challenge and a community service project as part of the 2011 Multicultural Teen Corporate Mentoring Program hosted by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NPC) in East Hanover.

The weeklong event in late April brought nearly 150 students from more than 30 schools together with NPC employees for activities designed to help the students set higher personal, academic and career goals by bringing them face to face with successful multicultural role models in a corporate environment and exposing them to diverse career options.

“You can see the change in the kids’ eyes as they experience this great opportunity,” said Tonya Ramsay, a Summit Middle School math teacher who participated in the event. “When they come and see staff members who work here and look like them — African American, Hispanic — they realize that can be them, and it really is an inspiration to them. It changes their whole direction, their mindset about life. It instills a confidence.”

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Many students were involved through the efforts of nonprofit agencies dedicated to helping minority youth, including the Summit Area YMCA.

One of NPC’s many philanthropic efforts, the program has mentored more than 600 students, several of whom returned as interns during their college years.