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Grad students energized by "Be your own best mentor" workshop

By Katharine de Baun

"Be your own best mentor" workshop

What am I good at and what do I really enjoy doing? What do I care about most deeply? Where do I want to go and how do I get there?

Graduate students often struggle with big questions like these. Without a clear answer or direction, they can sometimes fall into reaction mode, peddling furiously but not going anywhere in particular.

campers sitting in audience listening to mentor lecture

Standing room only at “How to be your own best mentor” workshop with Carolee Bull

Enter OSU alumna Carolee Bull, Department Head and Professor of Plant Pathology and Systematic Bacteriology at Penn State University, who recently gave a workshop entitled "How to Be Your Own Best Mentor" from the award-winning mentoring curriculum she has developed. Thirty-eight students attended the workshop, which was co-sponsored by the College of Science and the College of Agricultural Sciences. The workshop consisted of four main parts:

  • Developing a personal "mission statement" and striving to align your actions with that mission statement
  • Conducting an honest self-evaluation, and
  • Defining ways to improve on skills that you've identified as lacking.

Throughout her interactive presentation, Bull illustrated her points with entertaining stories and examples and asked participants to do exploratory exercises and self-evaluations on the spot.

The workshop was extremely well-received by students, as reflected in a student survey. One-hundred percent of students found the workshop useful and would recommend it to others. "I thought it was great, and beyond my expectations," said one. "Great job! I feel inspired," said another.

Given how useful this workshop was to graduate students—and its lifelong impact on their professional development—Bull may make a repeat appearance to train a new cohort.

In addition to leading the mentoring workshop, Bull gave a seminar in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, from which she graduated in 1992. She also gave a talk and participated in a panel discussion at OSU's Microbiome Research Forum.