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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Graduate students recognized for mentoring

Nine UF graduate students received Graduate Student Mentoring Awards from the Innovation through Institutional Integration program, or I-Cubed.

The awards, which were given for the first time this year, went to graduate students who mentored other graduate students, undergraduate students or K-12 students or teachers during their UF careers, said I-Cubed Program Coordinator Nargiza Ludgate.

Recipients were recognized during Graduate Student Research Day in October. They each received a $500 award funded by I-Cubed, which operates on a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Ludgate said.

The award was developed to spotlight mentoring as an essential part of learning and to acknowledge that there is a group of graduate students who take the time to mentor, she said.

“It’s a mutualistic relationship where the mentee is benefiting from the mentoring relationship as well as the mentor is benefiting from the mentee relationship,” Ludgate said. “They have a positive impact on each other’s personal growth.”

Applicants had to write a personal statement including their mentoring philosophies and provide letters of recommendation from a mentee and a faculty adviser, Ludgate said.

One of the recipients was Victor Olivieri, a 33-year-old political science fourth-year Ph.D candidate. Olivieri founded the Junior Fellows Program, which pairs undergraduate students with professors and advanced graduate students working on research in the undergraduate student’s field of interest.

“Teaching them the foundation of research will outlast that first hurdle — that first job,” Olivieri said.

He explained that graduate students get experience as teaching assistants, but there isn’t as much focus on mentoring students about outside-of-the-classroom issues.

“For the most part, I think it is a relationship that’s undervalued,” he said.

This is an idea that award recipient Christine Lee, 26, agrees with.

Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in educational psychology who graduates in December. She manages a lab that includes four psychology undergraduates.

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“I’m glad UF is recognizing the importance of this, and I think it’s important,” she said, “and that it’s something that I just hope continues to be supported and promoted.”

Contact Kathryn Varn at kvarn@alligator.org.

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