Showing posts with label grad school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grad school. Show all posts

Thursday, May 07, 2015

On Mentorship

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

Last week we flew to the Bay Area to see a friend and mentor give his last lecture to his students before retiring.   It seems that we spend more time attending memorials than retirements and weddings these days, so it made us happy to be present and catch up with dear friends for a happy occasion. 

Paul Groth is a professor of geography and architecture at UC Berkeley, he was also TH's father's student. Over the years, Paul took a genuine interest in our lives and scholarship. When TH was contemplating returning to grad school to get her PhD., he reviewed her statement of purpose and provided excellent editorial advice.  As she worked towards finishing her degree, he provided needed encouragement, advice and when it was time, Paul helped hood her.

When I was in grad school (again), Paul helped narrow down my broad desire to write about the connection between health and landscape history to a topic that was well-defined but not well studied. The thesis ended up being a lot of fun to research and write.   

Prior to this trip, TH and I talked a lot mentors and influencers in our lives.  Does that person have to be called out as a mentor? Does that person have to be someone who gains from your accomplishments?  Should they? Does that person have to be someone you shadow or check in with on a regular basis? Does that person have to be within your discipline?  How much do you need to give back as a mentee?

When I went back to school for the second round, I felt more grounded in my scholarship and felt like the professors that took a genuine interest in me acted as mentors.  From them, I learned to research, analyze and write about topics of gender, landscape and built environment in a way that made me feel proud of my work and felt like they were also happy with my results.  I still hear them in my head when I write or look at a building or urban plaza.  I remember to think of the context and events that impacted the design or placement of buildings.   Now I think of software and app design in the same way, so what I learned is bigger than a building footprint. 

What makes a good mentor? Have you mentored someone?