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My inquiry eFolio for ETEC 533

  • Writer's pictureDr. Sarah McLean

What does it mean to be mentored?

In academia, mentorship is a big deal. As graduate students we get advisory committees filled with faculty members whose purpose is the growth of us as scientists and the growth of our projects. When I started my position, I was also given a mentorship committee; I met with them a few times and got some interesting feedback, but the formality of the whole thing was a little odd to me. To be honest, it shouldn't have been odd based on my experience in grad school, but in my current life I find myself surrounded by all sorts of "mentors" for different aspects of my whole being. I have my "mom mentors"- like my aunt, who has the patience and disposition of an angel. I have my friend Carolyn, and her ability to take things in stride and be a hilarious mom to her little ones never ceases to amaze me. I have my "be an awesome human being" mentors- such as my coworkers Kathy and Joan who are always available to give me perspective and genuinely care deeply about the important things in life. I have my "take it on the chin" mentors whose resilience and ability to bounce back from heartache and personal loss remind me to never lose hope. And I definitely have a large cadre of "work mentors" whom I admire for many different reasons. I have my friend who is a fantastic academic and is unafraid to feel things strongly; she has an amazing sense of justice. I have another colleague who can so eloquently break down the basis of a scientific argument and ask the really important questions that I find myself picking his brain quite frequently. I have colleagues that have retired but continue to inspire me with their commitment to their students, their passion for teaching and their wisdom. And the greatest thing about all of these people? They are willing to share their experience and guidance and have my best interests at heart.

So do I need a mentorship committee? It certainly can't hurt. But I honestly feel each day that I gain a little bit from conversations with my colleagues, students, and coworkers. I think the real trick for me will be to spend a little time each night (even a minute or two!) to think about the lessons of the day (whether good, bad, or something else) and how I can use that experience to grow.

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