Women's and Gender
Studies Graduate Student
Being a mentor in the Pre-Graduate Internship Program has allowed me to gain insight as to how to best prepare my intern for the rewarding and frustrating experiences that occur in graduate school. I would have to say that I have learned quite a bit from my intern, but on the other hand because I belong to same population (an underrepresented female of color) so many things are familiar to me.
One thing that is poignant about my interaction with my student is actually when I first approached her about doing the internship. She said to me that no one had really approached her about going to graduate school. When I was undergrad I had a very different experience and I was mentored and influenced to attend graduate school. I received this type of support from home and school. Unfortunately, my intern did not have the luxury of being influenced to enter into graduate school until she began this internship. It is better to have been given this opportunity that never at all.
The aforementioned example of what my intern has experienced so far as opposed to my undergrad experience is a prime example of the adversity she will experience if she pursues a graduate education at the University of Texas at Austin. I am speaking from experience as a graduate student at UT. I have not received much encouragement since I have been here and I am preparing her to be aware of this potential type of treatment in the future. Students of color and first generation college students NEED MORE GUIDANCE and ENCOURAGEMENT! This type of support must start in the classroom and the university itself.
Another problem these students may face is a lack of diversity in their programs and/or campuses. I have experienced this dilemma first hand at UT. This is to be expected when one moves on to a higher learning institution. This higher up in the ranks one goes it is more than likely the less diversity one will see. When you attend a university or are in a program with a lack of diversity then it can often lead to a lack of understanding and ability on a part of the professor to be able to nurture these students.
These are the issues I have faced being a female grad student of color at UT. I am interested in finding ways to combat these issues and finding solutions for these problems at hand. Being a mentor in the Pre-Graduate Internship has given me the tools so that I could reach out to another fellow student of color and guide her through her experiences and the others she will face in the future. It was important for me to find a program which would allow me for to bridge the gap between undergraduates and graduates students of color.