Crystal Carr, top left, with her mentees.

Tell me about this Mentoring Program:

Graduate students are paired up with new freshmen from under-represented groups, and we are given a budget for activities. For instance, I invited my mentees to my house for dessert during final exams, so that we have time to de-stress a bit. We went to the cider mill one day, had some cider and donuts and get to know each other. We are paired with students with similar academic interests, and we talk about their classes, careers, research, how to get into a graduate school. I even wrote a letter of recommendation for my mentee for a study abroad program.  

What do you find most rewarding about your experience:

It’s a great opportunity to reach out to a diverse set of students. It’s important for undergraduates to get into research early, it’s not too early to get started as an entering freshmen! lStudents from under-represented groups need mentorship early on to help them find these opportunities. Our conversations are usually the first ones they have ever had about research.

Have you had an important mentor, who helped you get involved in research?

I went to a small college Alabama, and didn’t get started on research till I was quite far along. There was only one research lab in the department. I didn’t even know that research and graduate school was an option for me. My academic advisor told me about a summer research program at a large research university where students like me can get involved in research, and taught me how to find out about different research projects going on in other universities. So I applied to in the summer of my junior year. That gave me experience to join this one lab when I went back to school in my senior year.

In the lab, there met someone who had a PhD. She had very high standards for me and very knowledgeable. She told me what to do to and wrote a letter of recommendation for me when I applied to graduate school. She was a great mentor and role model for me. it was very motivating for me to see first-generation students thrive in research!