Throughout my time at the University of Maryland, I have enjoyed working with and mentoring undergraduate students. I have engaged in mentoring and/or advising in three major ways:
First, I have guided students to pursue their academic and professional interests, regardless of what they are. When students take Oral Communication: Principles and Practices or Critical Thinking and Speaking, they are likely in their first or second semester. Many of them are unsure whether the major they picked is the major they will graduate with, and some are simply “undecided.” These two general education courses are a great opportunity for students to research topics or problems that they care about or have some personal connection with. These topics often become the subjects of one or more of their speaking assignments throughout the semester. Through their research and speech preparation, I guide students toward sources that will help them learn more about their topic and I also help them see connections to possible majors or careers through my feedback and conversations with them. I have had students tell me (verbally and through course evaluations), that my guidance helped them understand where their interests lie and possible career paths to pursue them. One student remarked that it was in my public speaking class where they solidified their interest in declaring their major to be communication. However, recruiting communication majors is not my main goal. I hope to help students find what they are passionate about regardless of what it is.
Second, I have provided detailed individual feedback on assignments and examinations to advise students on how best to succeed in my class. On each major graded assignment, I provide thorough feedback, using a detailed rubric, to explain to students how I calculate their grade. This achieves two goals: I help them understand why they received a certain grade, so they are not left wondering, and I also communicate my expectations for future assignments and what success in the course looks like. I have included a sample of my feedback in my teaching portfolio. I always am willing to discuss this feedback in person during my office hours to further help students understand how they can improve.
Third, I have mentored students beyond their time in my classroom. I often hear from students long after they’ve completed my class, either for a letter of recommendation for graduate school (example included) or to simply get advice on their scholarly or professional endeavors. For example, I have mentored a former student (a communication major) for several years to see her through the end of her undergraduate degree. I have offered advice on what courses to take to appeal to her interests and degree requirements as well as study tips and the occasional feedback on her coursework. In addition to this, I have offered my moral support as she finishes her degree, as she is a non-traditional undergraduate who has faced many challenges in the pursuit of her education. I have also met with former students for coffee to discuss what graduate school is like and to catch up on their endeavors at Maryland.
I truly value each relationship I cultivate with my students, whether it is during their time in my course, after, or both. I look forward to continuing this type of advising and mentorship as an Assistant Professor.