Communication Studies Doctoral Student Connie Johnson

Connie JohnsonAs an African-American graduate student, I was able to open a window of opportunity that exposed my IE mentee to scholarly academia at a national conference. As women of color, both of us were able to connect on levels that far exceeded that of the traditional classroom. Our one-on-one relationship has included weekly journal-quality essay assignments, reading critiques and a sense of camaraderie that the average college student could only dream of. In addition to regular meetings, my mentee has met with both graduate students and scholars from major universities throughout the country. I am particularly proud of the fact that because of the insight and exposure provided through the IE experience, my mentee is now able to make a significant contribution to any university or college. In allowing her to fulfill some of her dreams, my mentee has allowed me to fulfill my own as we both make our journey to our one destination: the professoriate!

In working with Kara Mckenzie, an undergraduate student for the Radio-Television-Film department of the College of Communication, I was thrilled when I realized just how eager she was to join me as my partner and mentee in the IE program. Not only has she interviewed a leading photojournalist for an interview project, she and I have flown to Chicago for a major conference. As a result of conference attendance and participation, Kara now has friends and associates nationwide who also share similar interests in stronger scholarly communication.

The Intellectual Entrepreneurship program has proven itself to be the key to so many success stories primarily because it literally opens doors for our undergraduate students-doors to experiences, scholars and events that they would never see or know about. As a doctoral student in her final year of coursework, I realized I had seen and participated in enough of the day-to-day experiences of a graduate student to be able to share those experiences-and expectations--with someone who might have wondered how the graduate world operated but never really knew. What has made the IE experience even more rewarding is its ability to, indirectly, train and prepare me for work as an actual professor in the near future. By assigning regular essay projects, critiquing my mentee's work and offering opinions and suggestions, I now have a taste of what it feels like to be a "real" professor. Thanks to the IE program, I now have a greater sense of the tremendous responsibility one assumes as a scholar and professor.