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Mentors Reflect on their Scientific Relationships, and Why They've Pursued Them

By January 16, 2018No Comments

National Mentoring Month is a time to reflect – on past and current relationships, where they will move in the future, and how we will grow our networks throughout our careers. For both Mentors and Mentees, forming positive research relationships offers growth, not only in terms of connections and research mindsets, but personally. To recognize the significance of mentorship, several scientists and administrators have shared their scientific stories, and their thoughts.
“You have to go out and assertively seek out people… [we] need to have mentors to help us be a lot more successful, to open your eyes to opportunities that you may not be aware of, and to become a better scientist and a better person,” shared Johnna Frierson, PhD, who is the founding director of the Diversity Office at Pratt School of Engineering at Duke Unviersity. Frierson’s research career started out in Virology, and after finishing her PhD at Vanderbilt, became involved in student programming at North Carolina State University. She recognized that for mentees, the process can be intimidating: “It might not always be comfortable to put yourself out there, but the benefits outweigh the risks…these people have had such a positive influence [on my career]”
Hon Yuen, PhD, a Coach for an NRMN Grantwriting Program (the Southeast Training Hub) shared a altruistic perspective, in that mentorship offers “…intrinsic motivation, to see how [mentees] become successful, as the next generation of researchers.  I think that’s something that is…nothing can replace it, honestly.” A coach for the NRMN SETH Grant-Writing program, he felt: “I enjoy it, and actually, it’s an honor to see some of the success of my training, to [have trainees] receive the grants, even though I may not have much to do with it.  It’s kind of a collaborative processes between me and the trainee.  It is a group process, including other trainees, as well.”  
Jan Abramson, Sponsored Projects Officer at the University of Utah, shared her thoughts as an administrator. Originally working at a film company, she was told by university staff that she was good at working with students – this inspired her to pursue a graduate assistantship in Higher Education Administration and Student Leadership. Abramson was the first in her family to attend college. “For years, I worked with student leadership and really began to understand the importance of what a good mentor could do to help a person’s career, because I have had great mentors…I had someone who saw my potential…I think about who I’ve inspired to keep moving forward…putting it forward to someone else is one of the best parts [of academia], we don’t get very far unless we reach back and pull someone up with us.”
National Mentoring Month is a time to think about current scientific relationships, and how we can better serve the scientific community. To learn more about mentorship and how to be an effective mentor, take a look at NRMN’s Mentor Training Programs, or be in touch with our staff.

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