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November 8, 2011

Faculty of color discuss mentorship

University faculty members answered questions and shared advice with students during a multiracial panel last night at 5710 South Woodlawn Avenue.

The panel consisted of Raúl Coronado, an assistant professor in the Department of English; Damon Jones, an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies; and Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, an associate professor in Latin American Literature.

“Many students of color were approaching us since they found it difficult to connect with the faculty,” Assistant Director for the Office of Multicultural Students Affairs (OMSA) Jean Chen said. “It would be nice if there would be some way to meet other professors of color to ask advice on their respective field.”

Eduardo Cisneros, a first-year graduate student at the Harris School of Public Policy, asked how the faculty members interact with students of color in graduate school and beyond.

Lugo-Ortiz responded by saying that it was the responsibility of faculty of color to become role models for students of color.

“[We need to have the] sensitivity to orient the student and help him or her figure out what he or she wants to do,” she said. “If students of color identify with you, you need to take on the responsibility for mentoring them appropriately.”

Jones added that his goal is to help all students of color who aspire to be in his field.

“I try to mentor all types of students, but I sometimes find myself in the unique position to help students of color because of common experiences,” he said.

The talk, a semi-annual event, was hosted by OMSA and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.

For the students that attended, the panelists ended with the same sentiment in unison: “Do what you love.”

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