“I’m proud to be able to
give back to the students,”
says Lisa Haygood, a mentor
and volunteer at the
school she attended as a teen.
When Lisa Haygood walks the halls of Luther Judson Price Middle School in South Atlanta as a volunteer, she knows more about that student community than most of the kids might think. Years ago, Lisa attended Price when it was a high school and she’s proud to call herself an alumna. These days, it’s not that surprising for her to meet students who are the children or relatives of people she already knows, because of her deep ties in the community.
In her work at IBM, Lisa is a consultant in Global Technology Services. She is responsible for the relationship between IBM’s strategic outsourcing delivery team (made up of project managers, architects, and sales reps) and the Office of Technology in two State of Georgia agencies—the Department of Human Services and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Her volunteer work at IBM has varied over the years, but since 2000, she’s been volunteering with Exploring Interests in Technology and Engineering (EX.I.T.E.)—a program that introduces middle school-aged girls to technology and engineering in an interesting and fun way. The hope is that the students will find interest and see opportunities in STEM fields, and steer their education and career in that direction as they get older. Lisa now serves as the IBM Partner in Education Representative and manages IBM’s relationship with Price Middle School.
During her involvement with EX.I.T.E., Lisa has used several activity kits to support the students in their learning. Most popular are Feet of Engineering,Internet Safety, and TryScience.
“The students get an opportunity to explore things they might not have thought about,” Lisa says. She knows their communities and what their potential is. It’s always satisfying for her to meet young women that were a part of EX.I.T.E. and to see that they remember IBM and that the program had an impact on their lives.
Even though she works in a demanding job, Lisa finds many benefits in volunteering. It breaks up the day and gives her perspective. “The work that I do is important because I want to be that real, live result in the school community that the students can aspire to be and dare to be better than,” Lisa says. “I am proud to be able to give back to the students at Price and to facilitate the opportunity for many of my IBM colleagues to volunteer.”
Lisa’s volunteering has also qualified her organizations to receive IBM Community Grants.
Lisa credits her volunteer work at IBM with giving her access to experiences she wouldn’t have had otherwise. “IBM is a solid brand in the Atlanta volunteer community and my work experiences prepare me to sit in the boardrooms where decisions are being made,” Lisa says.
But for Lisa, the most meaningful exchanges happen in more individual ways. Her first mentee in the IBM EX.I.T.E. program and eMentoring (a late 1990s program) has finished middle school, high school, college, and graduate school. The mentee is now working as an elementary school counselor.
“She is still my mentee!” Lisa says. “Last year I invited her onsite to IBM to create a promotional video where we shared our story.”
The impact that Lisa has had on students’ lives is tangible. “It is most satisfying when I encounter students who have stayed the course and are now graduating from high school or even college and doing well in life,” she says.
The benefits don’t just flow in one direction. Lisa credits the experience of volunteering with teaching her, too. “I am always learning things that translate to my professional IBM life,” Lisa says. “I am always gaining insights on dealing with different types of people in various roles, who all need some type of coordination. I use my volunteer time to hone those skills and fine-tune approaches to difficult situations and people.”
The passion she has for volunteering is mostly inspired by the students. Lisa wishes them success in whatever their next steps might be, but she does ultimately hope that they choose a career in STEM. “I feel good about what I’m doing,” she says. “When I can disconnect and volunteer it’s a win-win on both sides.”