Mentor Meeting Notes 11/30/12

Some of us (Michael, Jake, Carla, Tad, Deborah, Robin and Susannah) met on Friday to discuss the future of the Undergraduate Mentor Program, and this is what we decided:
– The program should continue with the buddy program–linking undergraduates with graduate students who share similar interests in anthropology, research topics and methodology, and post-graduation employment, etc.
– The program should also continue with the panel format–where all anthro undergrads, regardless of their participation in the buddy system, could get guidance, advice and wisdom from graduate students in the program.
– We should have undergraduate students fill out an application form if they want to take part in the buddy system. The application would give us information about their interests within anthropology and their plans for life post-graduation. This is a bit different from what we did in previous years where we used a survey, but–in agreement with the wise advice of the current president of Anthro Society, Evan Conaway–we thought that an application would help weed out students who are not highly motivated about one-on-one mentoring. I am drafting a preliminary application that I will send out shortly to get comments and feedback from you all.
– All graduate students interested in being mentors will meet to go over the applications together and decide tentatively who would work well with whom.
– Sometime early next semester, we will have a “mixer” with mentors and undergraduates who applied for the program. This will give everyone a chance to meet and to get to know one another a bit before we pair people together. At that time (or shortly afterwords) we can make final decisions about who will be paired with whom.
– Unlike in previous years, priority should not be given to juniors and seniors alone, but should be based upon the applications and the ability to pair people with suitable mentors. Turning people away was not a problem in years past, so it is likely that everyone who applies–regardless of standing–should get a spot.
– If possible, there should be an effort to include guidance in research activities in the purview of the buddy system, as this would give undergraduate students an opportunity to see anthropolology “in action” and it would help them start thinking about carrying out original research. Admittedly, graduate students who carry out research nearby may be able to more effectively include undergraduates in the research process, but we can get creative about this. For example, even though I won’t be taking an undergraduate to The Gambia any time soon, I may be able to bring students into different stages of data analysis/processing. From what I understand CURO sometimes allows for graduate students to act as mentors to undergraduate researchers. I am going to look into this a bit more.
 If AGSO in general agrees, it could be a good idea to make a permanent “Mentor Program Coordinator” position that would be elected every year along with all the other AGSO officer positions. So, AGSO Officers, despite the late notice, can we put this on the agenda for tomorrow?
– We should also have a contact person amongst the undergraduate students who could work with the Mentor Program Coordinator if any issues arise. For example, having representatives like this may be good in the case that either a mentor or a mentee feels that they would be better placed with some other person. The coordinators from the grad students and undergrads could then work together to kindly sort this sort of thing out.
– We should also make sure to contact the undergraduate archaeology society to talk to them about the program.
– We would like to get all of this going early next semester.
(Susannah Chapman)

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