I hope you’re all doing well and getting a chance to enjoy the fine St. John’s weather we are experiencing this spring. Note: at time of writing, it was absolutely beautiful around campus – but that can all change very quickly at any given moment. As they say, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes! I’ve been really enjoying the recent posts from my fellow bloggers. There have been lots of great insight and personal experiences being shared to show the diversity of opportunities and challenges at graduate school (e.g., see the blogs about writing workshops, or comprehensive examination preparation).
Rightfully so, the content in all of these blogs has been reflecting on our experiences as graduate students – the good and the bad. When I was reflecting back over my most recent year of study, I recalled having lots of ups and downs in my graduate school experience, too. Thanks to the social psychological concept known as the negativity bias, the ‘downs’ aspect of grad school are always the easiest moments to think of and recall. I can remember some of the low points being that I felt uncreative in my research designs, inadequate in whether I really understood a concept that I was learning about, or I doubted my ability to be able to communicate effectively through my writing and/or oral presentations. But, I’ve also had a lot of ‘ups’ during this journey that I shouldn’t forget about, including things like receiving recognition for a paper or presentation that I worked on, successfully teaching other students about a psychological concept, and seeing a new passion be born within myself for a topic of inquiry. All of these ‘up’ and ‘down’ experiences are actually really normal, and every grad student will certainly experience them throughout their graduate career. Importantly, regardless of whether I was having a good or bad experience at the time, my supervisor always had great encouraging advice to keep me motivated and focused on my goal.
Our supervisors play a key role in our development as scholars, professional practitioners, and critical thinkers. But for all of the encouragement that they provide to us, I wonder how we, as students, can acknowledge these facts and in a way, give back to our mentors? Fortunately at MUN, there are a number of ways that we can do this through nominating our advisors for their excellence in teaching and mentoring. I think it’s important to consider ways to show our support of our professors and supervisors (maybe this is the reciprocity bias occurring?). In fact, some departments present annual awards for their faculty related to this notion, and are often based on student votes.
I’m really grateful for my supervisor and his hands-on style of mentoring. I know a lot of current and previous students of our lab have also felt this way, as well. When the opportunity arose for some of us to give back to our supervisor through recommending him for the above mentioned awards, many of us jumped at the chance and put his name forward for recognition of his supervisory skills and ability to foster success in his students. I’m really pleased to say that my advisor has been the recipient of The Rennie Gaulton Award for Excellence in Teaching (presented by the psychology department), The President’s Award for Graduate and Post Graduate Supervision (presented by the administration here at MUN), and the Geoffrey Marshall Graduate Mentoring Award (presented by the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools).
As much investment that our supervisors put into us as students, I think we should try to reflect our appreciation back to them in some form or another. I’d really encourage you to consider putting your supervisor’s name forward for local and international praises of mentorship. After all, many of us wouldn’t reach our full academic potential without them. As an aside fun fact, my advisor is actually facilitating a Program in Graduate Student Supervision and can be seen promoting the program here.
Until next time…