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Faculty Mentors Help Fellowship Recipients Prepare for Graduate School

Published: October 19, 2016

Faculty Mentors Help Fellowship Recipients Prepare for Graduate School

GSEF fellows, graduate students, and guest speakers gathered at the first Fellows Program Annual Summit in Chicago on August 18-19.

The first year of programming for the Graduate School Exploration Fellowship (GSEF) program is underway at all 14 ACM colleges, as the 48 fellowship recipients are matched with faculty mentors at their colleges and preparing for a research internship next summer at one of 15 participating R1 universities.

GSEF is aimed at encouraging ACM college students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in academia to pursue graduate degrees and learn about teaching careers, especially as faculty at liberal arts colleges. The program, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, targets students interested in disciplines in the humanities, humanistic social sciences, and the arts.

GSEF Quick Facts:

  • Eligible students at ACM colleges may apply as sophomores
  • On-campus mentoring & workshops in your junior and senior year
  • Paid summer research internship at a major R1 university
  • Present your research at an academic conference in Chicago

Learn more about GSEF!

The first cohort of GSEF fellows gathered at the first Annual Summit in August for two days of discussion with current graduate students, faculty, and guest speakers on a variety of topics related to graduate school and careers as teachers and scholars.

“A lot of the students commented that the Summit was a valuable experience and that they feel invigorated going into their junior year,” said Lilly Lavner, ACM Liaison for the Fellows Program to Diversify the Professoriate.

While Lavner organizes the overall program and the Annual Summit, the GSEF coordinator on each ACM campus handles the selection process for awarding the fellowships and matches fellows with faculty mentors at the college.

The GSEF fellows are expected to meet with their faculty mentors regularly throughout the school year. As a complement to the one-to-one mentoring, the coordinators are planning to connect the students with additional on-campus resources and workshops.

A discussion session at the 2016 Annual Summit.

According to Lavner, the role of the faculty mentors is partly to help the fellows get ready for their research internship, but mainly to prepare them for graduate school.

“There’s a wide range of questions to address, beginning with what is involved in doing research in the humanities at the graduate level,” she said. “Where should I apply to programs, and how do I start to figure out which graduate schools and faculty are doing research I’m interested in?”

"I had the time of my life at the GSEF [Annual Summit]. Being around such amazing people, and bouncing ideas off of them was an honor, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have never felt more validated as a scholar."

- GSEF Fellow

“The size and culture of large research universities greatly differs from liberal arts colleges,” Lavner noted, “so it is also critical for the mentors to discuss the different ways in which students interact with faculty in graduate school, to ensure the fellows develop skills to thrive as a graduate student.”

In mid-December, the fellows will be notified of their research internship placement for summer 2017 at either a university in the Big Ten Academic Alliance or the University of Chicago, the institutions that are partners with ACM in the program.

Current sophomores at ACM colleges who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for the GSEF during the 2016-17 academic year. Application procedures and deadlines vary, so check with the GSEF coordinator on your campus for details.

GSEF is part of the seven-year Undergraduate and Faculty Fellows Program for a Diverse Professoriate, funded by an $8.1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Fellows Program’s broad goal is to expand participation by underrepresented groups in the career pipeline from college student to liberal arts college professor. In addition to the GSEF, the program supports tenure-track faculty fellowships for new hires at ACM colleges and a series of meetings and workshops focused on hiring, evaluation, and retention practices that encourage faculty diversity.


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