We sat down with Gene Estrada, an Anthropology graduate student, and Frida Sandoval, an Evolutionary Anthropology major, and discuss the benefits of having a peer mentor.
Anthropology Undergraduate-Graduate Mentoring Program (AUGMENT)
Alexandra Norwood, Doctoral Student in Anthropology
Too often students from historically marginalized groups are unsupported within academia and or not given the tools for success within college and beyond, into careers in both within and outside of academia. In order for anthropology as a field to become a more diverse and inclusive, we need to invest in students who face ongoing marginalization and give them every possible resource and opportunity to excel, by breaking down barriers, providing support, and helping dismantle hidden curriculum.
The Anthropology Undergraduate-Graduate Mentoring Program (AUGMENT) was founded in 2020 by Anthropology graduate students at UMich to help meet that need. AUGMENT is designed to empower underrepresented undergraduates who are interested in Anthropology, both majors and non-majors. AUGMENT matches undergraduates with a graduate student mentor with similar interests, similar experiences, or a similar background -- giving them someone to turn to for help navigating Anthropology and university as a whole.
Mentors help their mentees to navigate the ins-and-outs of the field (like how to find research opportunities or a graduate program, or how to write better papers, or explore their interests in the field and future pathways in and out of academics), in regular meetings. Additionally, AUGMENT holds monthly workshops with topics that target hidden curriculum (e.g., “How to Craft a CV”, “How to Read an Academic Paper”, etc.). In short, these meetings -- which are designed by grad students from many diverse backgrounds, and often included invited outside experts – equip our students with valuable tools.
Within our first semester we have matched 35 students with graduate student mentors and hosted several events, including a workshop on finding research opportunities and a conversation for first-gen students. The amount of support we have so far received from the department and University has been enormous and we know we will be able to keep growing as a program. Our future goals center on providing our students with the best experience possible, by facilitating more in-depth workshops and introducing other opportunities for connection, through speaker series or providing travel funding to conferences.