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Examining the Intersection of Graduate Student Funding, Mentoring and Training as a Mechanism of Success for Peer Mentors and their Mentees

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Mentoring Minority Students

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.562.1 - 23.562.18



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Paper Authors


Frances Carter-Johnson Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Dr. Carter-Johnson is responsible for research and evaluation of several undergraduate education initiatives at MIT in her role as a Postdoctoral Associate for Educational Research in the Teaching and Learning Laboratory. She completed her PhD in Public Policy with a concentration in evaluation and analytical methods from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. As a result of years of academic and research support from agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Education, she is also repeatedly invited to provide funding, proposal, and application preparation training for undergraduate and graduate students.

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Patricia Ordóñez University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras

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Patricia Ordóñez is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras since the Fall of 2012. She received her BA in Hispanic and Italian Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She received her MS and PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her research centers on using visualization and data mining (visual analytics) to improve the state of medicine and healthcare. She is also interested in developing interfaces with universal access to assist in the learning of programming languages. In 2007, she received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to complete her doctorate, which permitted her to pursue her interests in biomedical informatics in collaboration with medical professors at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 2008, her paper, "Visualizing Multivariate Time Series Data to Detect Specific Medical Conditions", was nominated for the Best Student Paper Award at AMIA 2008.

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Renetta G. Tull University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

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Renetta Garrison Tull is Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Student Development & Postdoctoral Affairs at UMBC and Director of PROMISE: Maryland’s AGEP (alliance members: UMBC, the University of Maryland Baltimore, and the University of Maryland College Park). She presents across the U.S. and Puerto Rico on topics ranging from graduate school recruitment, retention, and dissertation completion, to faculty development. She serves as a national coach and mentor for prospective and current graduate students at universities outside of Maryland through invited participation at STEM conferences such as GEM, NSBE, SACNAS, SHPE, and AISES. She is a former Board Member of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools and currently serves as a Liaison for Institutional Collaboration in the Chancellor’s Office at the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to her affiliations in Maryland, she is a member of the “QoLT” faculty at Carnegie Mellon, and MIT MSRP advisor, and member of the MIT Deeper Engagement Working Group.

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Miguel Alfonso Nino University of Maryland, Baltimore County Orcid 16x16

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Miguel Alfonso Nino is a Panamanian entrepreneur, copywriter, certified translator, conference interpreter, public speaker, and Training & Development professional with more than 7 years of experience. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in International Business from Lindenwood University and a Certificate of Economic Studies from Universite de Caen, Basse Normandie in France. Currently, he is pursuing a Master's Degree in Instructional Systems Development at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is fluent in Spanish, English, and French. In 2005, he was selected by Special Olympics to participate as an international leader in the Global Youth Summit held in Nagano, Japan, where he joined other leaders around the world to discuss the importance of including people with intellectual disability. As a public speaker and trainer, he has facilitated seminars and workshops in a wide variety of topics, including cross-cultural training, professional development, simultaneous interpretation, and e-learning.

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Examining the Intersection of Graduate Student Funding, Mentoring and Training as a Mechanism of Success for Peer Mentors and their MenteesSession Topic Preferences:-Issues in recruiting, building, and enabling diversity in engineering graduate education-Benefits in participating in federally-funded scholarship/fellowship programs that targetunderrepresented groupsMentoring and training in graduate school, most often considered the role that faculty andadministrators should have with students, is evolving to include graduate student peer mentoringrelationships. Peer mentoring, whether resulting from formal or informal programs, providesadditional support for talented students to successfully complete graduate degrees in engineering,especially PhDs for which the national completion rate is consistently around 50% according tothe Council of Graduate School’s PhD Completion Project. Specifically, for underrepresentedgraduate students (women, ethnic minorities, and citizens with disabilities) in engineering, whohave lower completion rates than their male, White, and international counterparts, applying forand receiving fellowships (e.g., National Science Foundation Graduate Research FellowshipProgram (NSF GRFP)) to fund their graduate education can increase the chance that thesestudents actually complete their degrees. While peer mentoring most often addresses traditionalgraduate student needs such as navigating one’s department and choosing a research advisor,some graduate schools also support more innovative examples, such as underrepresentedfellowship winners training burgeoning graduate students to apply for fellowships. In this paperwe present an example of a workshop series through which graduate student peer mentorscontributed to the engineering advanced degree pipeline by mentoring promising graduatestudents to successfully apply for and win prestigious graduate fellowships.The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) has notably created a program ofgraduate student support and professional development known as Success Seminars that includesannual graduate funding workshops sustained and expanded since 2007. The Success Seminarsand other programs are largely funded by NSF’s PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for GraduateEducation and the Professoriate (AGEP). Recent PhD recipients who were PROMISE peermentors while in their PhD programs uniquely led the funding workshops. In addition toencouraging fellowship applicants to use their research mentors and peers for applicationfeedback, the workshop facilitators served as experienced fellowship recipients and had the 1    opportunity to train and mentor promising students by reviewing applicants’ personal andresearch statements.Pre-and post-surveys implemented in 2012 and five years of participant testimonials providequantitative and qualitative data to evaluate workshop effectiveness and any increases inparticipants’ abilities to successfully apply for graduate funding. While several workshopparticipants have received NSF GRFs and other awards, our empirical analysis provides furtherevidence of the importance of this unique type of intervention. We also consider enhancementsin professional development for both participants and facilitators by increasing knowledge of andengagement within each student’s respective academic discipline, and improving overall writing,presentation, and proposal/grant writing abilities. In summary, this study assesses an emergingexample of how to increase success amongst all engineering graduate students as well as broadenparticipation of underrepresented minorities through sustained peer mentoring and training.However, not only does the study address increasing graduate student academic success, we alsodiscuss the capacity of interventions of this type to enable peer mentors to begin their legacy ofsuccess in mentoring and training early in their careers.   2    

Carter-Johnson, F., & Ordóñez, P., & Tull, R. G., & Nino, M. A. (2013, June), Examining the Intersection of Graduate Student Funding, Mentoring and Training as a Mechanism of Success for Peer Mentors and their Mentees Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19576

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