Reflections on Mentoring from Bass Connections Graduate Students

March 23, 2017

Three of the 2017 participants in the Duke Graduate School’s Emerging Leaders Institute explored the role of mentorship performed by graduate students and postdocs at Duke. As part of their project, Ali Daraeepour (Environment), Karolina Woroniecka (Pathology) and Xin Yu (Pathology) compiled these reflections from Bass Connections graduate student team members along with resources for graduate and postdoc mentors.

Simon Brauer

Simon Brauer4th-year Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, The Graduate School
The Role of Catholic Campus Religious Ministries in the Formation of Young Adults

Through this Bass Connections project, I’ve been able to guide my students through the full research process (investigate a topic; develop research questions; design and test data collection methods; and analyze the data to answer their questions). Having the time to help them at each step and the opportunity to involve them in real research has been instructive to my own approach to teaching and mentorship.

Tony Fuller

Tony Fuller3rd-year M.D. Candidate, School of Medicine; Director of Uganda Research, Duke Division of Global Neurosurgery and Neuroscience
Improving Neurosurgery Patient Outcomes in Uganda

Mentorship is key to the success of any research project with members at multiple educational levels like Bass Connections. Talking with undergraduates about project ideas, ethical dilemmas and how to write a manuscript are just some of the things I've been able to help with. Outside of the direct impact we’ve been able to have on neurosurgical patient care in Uganda, seeing the success of the students has been the best part of my experience.

Justin Lana

Justin Lana3rd-year Ph.D. Candidate, Nicholas School of the Environment
Environmental Epidemiology in Latin America

There may be no better place to mentor than in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Cut off from social media, the news and many of the comforts of home, our students experience a new level of freedom that allows them to explore their new environment, engage in meaningful global health research and ultimately—as is my goal for them—to critically examine and question their roles as citizens in our increasingly interconnected world.

Anna Martin

Anna Martin2nd-year MPP Candidate, Sanford School of Public Policy
Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI)

We as students don’t just come into a Bass Connections project with one skill or area of expertise, but with all the experiences that have gotten us to this point. There’s a network of ideas and experiences found among all the team members, and we find ways to mentor each other in various ways, whether that is graduate student to undergraduate student, grad student to grad student or even undergraduate student to graduate student. We each have experiences, skills and ways of thinking through our ideas that others on our team are able to learn from.

Meghan O’Neil

Meghan O'Neil7th-year Ph.D. Candidate, English, The Graduate School
NC Jukebox
Exploring the Intersection of Energy and Peace-building through Film

Mentorship has been an integral part of my Bass Connections experience and an important reason I’ve participated on multiple project teams. As a teacher and mentor, I’ve tried to follow the guide of those who have mentored me: I strive to foster personal and intellectual development by being enthusiastic, open-minded and a good listener while also providing guidance based on my own knowledge, skills and strengths.

Trey Sinyard

Trey Sinyard5th-year M.D.-M.B.A. Candidate, School of Medicine/Fuqua School of Business
NC Medicaid Reform Advisory Team

My goal as a graduate student mentor is to cast a clear vision so that the undergraduates can see where we’re headed and what they’re capable of achieving. They have more than the requisite skills to reach excellence. I just need to provide purpose and autonomy, allowing their intrinsic motivation to take over. Lao Tzu’s famous quote on leadership sums it up well: “A leader is best when no one knows he exists...his aims fulfilled, they will say ‘we did it ourselves’.”

Zachary Smothers

Zachary SmothersMaster of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine
Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach

I took my role as a project manager in Bass Connections because I knew that I would be able to help undergraduate students learn in an interdisciplinary environment. Through Bass Connections I have been able to work closely with students from multiple disciplines and help them develop their professional identities. Through this mentoring, I can help these future professionals obtain skills that will allow them to flourish in interdisciplinary environments later in life.

Brittney Sullivan

Brittney Sullivan3rd-year Ph.D. Candidate, School of Nursing
Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI)
Evaluation of Scaling Innovative Healthcare Delivery in East Africa

Mentoring fellow graduate and undergraduate students across so many disciplines through Bass Connections has enhanced my teaching skills and provided me with a broader understanding of true collaboration in research teams.

Samit Sura

Samit Sura2nd-year Master of Arts Candidate, Economics, The Graduate School
Energy Data Analytics Lab

Mentoring is a great opportunity, as it incentivizes the mentor to come up with new techniques to help others understand concepts easier and improves his/her communication skills.


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