The Power of Mentors

This is why I LOVE the McNair program. And McNair mentors. And McNair scholars. Because this is where the magic truly happens. I’m serious. Here’s just one example and it comes from one of our newbie scholars, Miss Blair Baker.

She writes:

Another good experience that I have had is being able to meet with my mentor, Dr. Deb Poole. We have a weekly meeting and we have established what my summer project will consist of. I really look forward to building a stronger relationship with her. During our first meeting, Deb explained that our relationship no longer consisted of a teacher and a student, but rather, a set of peers who are working toward the same goal. She also explained that she is an extremely honest mentor who has no issue giving constructive criticism. The overall goal doing such a thing is to enhance my abilities as a scholar and future graduate student. Lastly, Deb told me that mistakes at this stage are normal and expected. Although they are inevitable, I hate making mistakes so hearing this was comforting. It is refreshing to hear all of this and I believe it reflects the confidence my mentor has in me, which arguably, is the most important aspect of having a mentor – it is important to be led by someone who believes in your abilities.

Wowsa. And this is why I love Deb. She’s been a mentor multiple times for McNair scholars in the past and I always appreciated her clear (and high) expectations, no nonsense approach and, for lack of a better way to put this, her realness. We are lucky to have many great mentors, but this short excerpt from a new scholar’s first monthly reflection (or “monthly goods” as we affectionately refer to them), nails it as to why mentors are so special. And why they are so critical in the journey of our McNair scholars.


At their best, mentors:

: will be compassionate and interested in their scholar’s success
: will demand quality work while providing support + encouragement
: will share their experiences and insights but still allow their scholar to find their own path
: will be honest about the rewards + challenges of the field + profession
: will challenge their scholar to do more and be more
: will guide their scholar to awesome opportunities in their career and life!

Mentoring is the cornerstone of the McNair program and we couldn’t run a freakin’ awesome program without some pretty fantastic faculty who are really good at what they do and who really care. So this is just one SHOUT OUT to our mentors as we welcome – yet another – new group in. Thank you, thank you and thank you some more. xo

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