New Graduate Students Learn Value of Mentoring
New graduate student Danielle Young arrives at her Chicago university, excited about the opportunity to work with faculty researcher Dr. Patricia Reid, her mentor and her major professor. Though her initial meeting with Dr. Reed is positive, by the end of the semester, Danielle is beginning to feel overwhelmed.
Danielle and Dr. Reid are fictional characters, portrayed for new NC State graduate students by Theater Delta, an interactive theater group from Chapel Hill. Theater Delta performed at new graduate student orientation to help students consider how to work effectively with their mentors and faculty advisors.
Students saw three short vignettes, depicting meetings between Danielle and Dr. Reid over the course of Danielle’s first year in grad school. Between performances, they discussed each situation with other students. Theater Delta’s Ben Saypol also gave students the opportunity to ask questions of the two characters.
Dr. Maureen Grasso, dean of The Graduate School, decided to bring Theater Delta to student orientation, after seeing the group perform for the Council of Graduate Schools. In March, Theater Delta did a similar program, aimed at NC State’s directors of graduate programs. (Read more from Graduate School News.)
“Theater Delta’s performances helped graduate students see the dynamics of a student-mentor relationship. The students were very thoughtful and asked great questions of the characters,” Grasso said.
When Danielle meets a second time with Dr. Reid, she has just received a disappointing grade on a paper, and Dr. Reid questions why she has missed a two critical deadlines for her assistantship during the semester.
In their final meeting, Danielle stops Dr. Reid outside class, anxious to discuss her thesis and concerned because Dr. Reid hasn’t replied to Danielle’s email. And when Danielle expresses excitement over a thesis topic she is considering, Dr. Reid cautions her about the time involved in the proposed research.
The students wanted to know: Should Dr. Reid have recommended counseling, since Danielle was so overwhelmed? Was it right for Danielle to stop Dr. Reid outside of class to ask about her thesis topic? Is it typical for faculty not to return students’ email? Why didn’t Dr. Reid offer encouragement, when Danielle says she may want to pursue a Ph.D.?
The students wanted to know: Should Dr. Reid have recommended counseling, since Danielle was so overwhelmed? Was it right for Danielle to stop Dr. Reid outside of class to ask about her thesis topic? Why didn’t Dr. Reid offer encouragement when Danielle mentions she may want to pursue a Ph.D.?
Students also asked about the difference between an “advisor” and “mentor.”
“Everyone will have an advisor,” Grasso told the students. “Some advisors will become mentors, but your mentor doesn’t have to be your advisor. Your mentor could be an older graduate student.”
Nearly 1,600 students attended New Graduate Student Orientation at McKimmon Center on Monday. Two sessions – morning and afternoon – were offered to accommodate all students, and the University Graduate Student Association held an information fair between sessions. New students received a Graduate School bag, planner, thumb drive and samples of Howling Cow ice cream.
More than 2,800 new graduate students were admitted for the fall semester. Last week, more than 1,100 international graduate students participated in orientation for incoming international students.