Celine entered the Lifespan Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program in Fall 2016. She showed up to our applicant dinner the previous spring in Ravenclaw colors, and I knew right away that we were going to get along. Celine had already earned a Master’s degree in Social Psychology and had been working with a PI in on of UAB’s research labs. So, during her first year, I helped her navigate some of the trials of entering a Ph.D. program when you have already completed a terminal M.S. program, which is something I also did. Teaching and mentoring are also skills that are very important to Celine, and which she already has a strong basis in, having successfully run a research lab for several years. I made her aware of some of the options with the graduate school, such as the CIRTL program. Celine was assigned to be my Graduate Teaching Assistant in Fall 2017 and wanted to complete her program teaching practicum under my supervision. However, Celine was one of three UAB graduate students to be in the inaugural cohort of the Keystone Fellows through the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, receiving full funding to continue her research on HIV-related stigma, intersectional stigma, and other barriers to treatment. She will, therefore, postpone participating in the full teaching practicum. Nevertheless, we still hope that she will be able to come guest lecture for my class for topics of social psychology. As a self-professed “social justice mage-in-training”, it’s a true pleasure to watch Celine’s star beginning to rise.
Dr. Meredith Henry has been my “Teaching Mentor-Friend” since I entered the Lifespan Developmental Ph.D Program at UAB in the fall semester of 2016. I make the distinction because Meredith has this uncanny way of building professional relationships while maintaining separate social friendships with those very same individuals she mentors. This is a balancing act that I try to replicate as research coordinator and lab manager of my PI’s Social Science Research Laboratory. Meredith has taught me the importance of keeping an open door policy for my research assistants and future students while also challenging me to find the joy in experiencing “teachable moments”. I know that I will be an engaging, courteous, and prepared instructor because of the exemplary efforts set forth by Dr. Henry and her more senior teaching mentee Jonathan Adams. Quite in fact, Meredith has actually mentored my second teaching mentor! Earlier this semester, I felt ambivalent about being a recipient of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’s prestigious Keystone Fellowship Award because that meant I would have to rescind my assignment as GTA for Meredith and Jonathan’s PY 101 sections. However, not only were they both enthusiastic and extremely confident that I deserved this opportunity, but they jumped at my offer to help co-lecture their upcoming Social Psychology lectures that focus on research topics very near and dear to my heart, “Race, Gender-Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Interpersonal Interaction”. It is quite fortunate that my quirkiness and love of pop-culture is so embraced by Dr. Henry and is embedded within her pedagogy. Later this semester, we have a bit of a fun surprise planned for her PY 101 students! Once again, it is an honor and a joy to be mentored by this brilliant and benevolent professor. I look forward to making her proud when I began my own teaching practicum later on in my program. I have no doubt that I will sharpen some minds by illuminating for them the magic of science!