Two Graduate Students Honored for Excellence in Mentoring Their Bass Connections Team Members

April 10, 2017

Bass Connections Mentoring Award

Stephanie Reist and Tony Fuller are the winners of the Bass Connections Award for Outstanding Mentorship in 2017. This new award recognizes the vital role that graduate students and postdocs play in mentoring undergraduate students on Bass Connections teams.

Each winner will receive a $1,000 prize and be recognized at the Bass Connections Showcase on Thursday, April 20.

Among many strong nominations, those for Reist and Fuller rose to the top. Nominations from their fellow team members and leaders made it clear that they played an essential role in mentoring students, setting the vision for the team, helping the team navigate research trips Brazil and Uganda, collaboratively addressing barriers and building a positive team environment.

Stephanie Reist

Program: Ph.D. in Romance Studies, The Graduate School; and Master of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy

Bass Connections Project Team: The Cost of Opportunity? Higher Education in the Baixada Fluminense

Stephanie Reist is a fifth year, dual M.P.P.-Ph.D. student with a specialization in Latin American Studies. Her research looks at center-periphery dynamics, urban belonging and Black cultural production in Rio de Janeiro’s Baixada Fluminense suburbs. Through Sanford’s Felsman Fellowship program, she spent the 2014-15 academic year in Brazil. Last month at a conference hosted by her Bass Connections team, she screened a documentary she codirected with Brazilian filmmaker Dudu de Morro Agudo.

Stephanie Reist with her Bass Connections team

Stephanie had this wonderful ability to make any task assigned to the team seem like an adventure. And it was to her. To watch Stephanie do her own research was to watch someone who was always meant to do the work they had chosen. Stephanie engaged with her work not just on an academic level, but emotionally and spiritually as well. These lessons—that I believe only Stephanie Reist could have taught me, with all her warmth and joy and tireless spirit—have molded me into the academic researcher I am today. I have decided to study indigenous language revitalization in Mexico during my time at Duke and write an honors thesis on the topic. Thanks to Stephanie, I feel that I will be able to do this topic justice.  –Adaír “Adi” Necalli ’19

From day one, I felt comfortable approaching Stephanie about concerns that I was too timid to bring up with our faculty team leaders. Her advice was always helpful, always useful, and always delivered in an honest, kind, even sisterly manner. –Jessica Lee ’17

She is a model of what I believe an engaged scholar and mentor should be, not only seeking to challenge her own ideologies, but also the ideologies of those around her. Her personable nature, multidimensionality and ability to relate with others on all levels meant she quickly became like an older sister and role model to undergraduate and fellow graduate students alike. Mitchell Ryan

Tony Fuller

Program: Doctor of Medicine, School of Medicine

Bass Connections Project Team: Improving Neurosurgery Patient Outcomes in Uganda

Tony Fuller is a fourth-year medical student who received his Master of Science in Global Health from Duke in 2015. “When I got into medical school I knew exactly what I wanted to do: global health and neurosurgery,” Fuller said. He and other students at the Duke Global Health Institute were instrumental in establishing Duke’s Division of Global Neurosurgery and Neurology (DGNN), the first of its kind in the country. Through DGNN, Fuller is involved in a twinning program between Duke and Mulago National Referral Hospital to build neurosurgical capacity in Uganda.

Tony Fuller with his Bass Connections team

He is, without hesitation, the best mentor I have had during my undergraduate career at Duke. His dual role as experienced professional and approachable graduate student has given him a unique ability to connect with the students and foster a community of openness and improvement. He is always receptive to our ideas and enthusiastic about working with students, and has gone out of his way to help us work on individual projects, whether protocols or new interventions, in addition to our teamwork. Kelsey Graywill ’18

Achieving the interdisciplinary diversity boasted by the Bass Connections program is no small feat when considering the uniquely demanding schedules of medical students, graduate students and undergraduates, yet Tony masterfully coordinates our biweekly 6:30 a.m. meetings, and even stops to pick up breakfast for us. –Meggie Lund ’17

Graduate Students and Bass Connections

Bass Connections project teams are a multifaceted experience, including faculty and student participants from all levels. Program evaluations continue to highlight the key role that graduate students and postdocs play on the project teams, often serving both as project managers and as mentors to the undergraduate students while also contributing to the original research.

More than 140 graduate and professional students are participating in Bass Connections project teams and the Data+ summer program in the 2016-2017 academic year. Bass Connections is providing these students with important opportunities to develop career-oriented skills, including mentoring, project management, team-based research and sustained engagement with external partners and clients.

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