University of Michigan: Mentoring within a Diverse Community

ORI Introduction to RCR: Chapter 7. Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities

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Need for Role Models
Students from historically underrepresented or marginalized groups have a harder time finding faculty role models who might have had experiences similar to their own. As some students say, they want to find “someone who looks like me;” “someone who immediately understands my experiences and perspectives;” “someone whose very presence lets me know I, too, can make it in the academy.”
Feelings of Isolation
Students from historically underrepresented groups can feel particularly isolated or alienated from other students in their departments, especially if the composition of a program is highly homogenous.
Burden of Being a Spokesperson
Students from underrepresented groups often expend a lot of time and energy speaking up when issues such as race, class, gender, or sexual orientation arise or are being ignored. These students point out how most of their peers have an advantage in not carrying such a burden.
Seeking Balance
Students observe that professors need to devote large parts of their lives to their work in order to be successful in the academy. Students from all disciplines tell us that they feel faculty expect them to spend every waking minute on their work. This perception of faculty expectations, accurate or not, is of grave concern to students who have children or wish to, as well as for those who want to balance their lives with their other interests. (Link)

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