UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Just the right mentor

Having a good mentor (or several) is part of a supportive environment.

Many students have mentors, whether informally or formally. Likewise, many faculty and staff have mentors – one formal mentorship program for employees is part of the new Leadership Institute Program.

The “How to Be Successful at Getting the Mentoring You Need” event on Nov. 12 gave a roomful of graduate students a chance to speak with faculty members with similar interests. The event in the UNCG Faculty Center was a collaborative effort involving NC A&T State’s Graduate School and their Academy for Teaching & Learning and UNCG’s Graduate School and new Faculty Teaching & Learning Commons.

UNCG’s Dr. Craig Cashwell, recipient of UNCG’s 2012 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, told the graduate students, “I think mentoring is about relationships.”

He explained how one particular faculty member made a large impact on his development when he was a graduate student. “Mentors have to notice, to care, to act.” He advised the graduate students to carefully consider what they are looking for in a mentor. Different types of people will offer different things, he explained.

NC A&T’s Dr. Solomon Bililign (in visual), who received the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, picked up on that theme. “Before choosing a mentor, think of your goals. Your desires, your passion. Be honest.” It goes both ways, he explained – the right mentee for the right mentor and vice versa.

The remainder of the session was spent in informal discussions at round tables – an almost equal mixture of faculty and graduate students. It presented a great opportunity to talk, get to know new people – perhaps the start of a mentoring relationship.

But first, everyone introduced themselves. Each table was already a mix of faculty and staff. The first two to introduce themselves were Dr. Travis Hicks, assistant professor of Interior Architecture, and Dr. Sharon Warren-Cook, co-director of the NC A&T/UNCG master’s program in social work.

“Now some unscripted time,” said FTLC director Patrick Lee Lucas. Students headed to faculty members they found to have similar interests. Everyone gathered around the various tables.

This late-afternoon session was just one event – but for some of these students, it could be a life-changing one. Finding a great mentor can do just that.

Want more information about graduate student mentoring? Visit grs.uncg.edu/pfl/ to learn more about the “Preparing Future Leaders” program – and for contact information.

By Mike Harris