Human Development & Family Sciences Graduate Student
Karyn Wheeler

Karyn WheelerMy experiences as a mentor in the IE Pre-Grad Internship program were completely not what I expected. I went into this thinking I would either have a wonderful new helper who would work with me often, or I would have someone I would need to really "watch over" and couldn't trust with a lot of responsibilities. Not knowing a lot of undergraduates personally, I didn't know what to expect, but assumed my opinions of my mentee would not change. I couldn't have been more wrong.

The beginning of the semester was a little rocky, because neither of us really knew what to expect. I didn't want to demand too much from her, and she didn't know how to stand up and tell me what she wanted. Eventually I told her she should always tell me if I do something wrong and I want to have an open conversation about how she's feeling about the mentorship. After this, things really improved.

My opinion of my mentee really picked up when we went to a conference together. My arrangements were already made, so she had to do a lot on her own. Despite last minute travel plans and having a broken ankle, she made it to Denver and attended several talks at the Society for Research on Child Development.

By the end, we talk just like friends and I have a lot of respect for how hard she works and her general interest in things. Because she is a minority and a first generation college student, I feel even more impressed with her abilities. I think these two qualities affect her work ethic very little, but her writing skills may be lagging slightly. Still, I am so pleased with her progress and think she will do great at what she chooses to do. I enjoyed mentoring her and I hope to have this experience again.