November 2015

Mentoring Reconsidered

November 2105

Dr. Mary Jo Hinsdale, author of Mutuality, Mystery and Mentorship in Higher Education, is the Director of the McNair Scholars Program at Westminster College. She spoke to us on October 8 concerning mentoring “outsider” students.

While this PhD is highly academic, her talk was quite personal. Through the program she directs, she seeks to find ways for people less well-represented in higher education to be successful in the academic field. These students have been marginalized and minoritized by society and academia. Most have experienced myriad microagressions.

Dr. Hinsdale told stories of students, especially Latinos, who feel that there is no space for them in the predominately white university system, as if they don’t belong there, especially because they are so often thought to be part of the service staff. Advanced degrees may utilize knowledge practices that have remnants of colonial times. These contemporary resonances of colonialism are barriers to progress of each individual and of academia in total.

Thus, mentoring the outsider is deeper and more risky than a protocol or list of ways that a mentor may interact with a protégé. The McNair program attempts to induce trust in both the mentors involved as well as the protégé’s they work with. Both groups are changed by the interactions. Thus, the word “mutuality” in the title of Dr. Hinsdale’s book.

As Dr. Hinsdale says, building trust is complex and is more than having a cup of coffee. It takes time to create a trusting relationship with a protégé, and mentors must realize they can never truly know another’s experience. Thus the word “mystery” in the title of her book.

As W. Brad Johnson says in his book On Being a Mentor, “Mentoring is a personal and reciprocal relationship in which a more experienced, usually older, faculty member acts as a guide, role model, teacher, and sponsor of a less experienced, usually younger, student or faculty member. A mentor provides the protégé with knowledge, advice, counsel, challenge, and support in the protégé’s pursuit of becoming a full member of a particular profession.”

78% of the graduates of the McNair Scholars Program have either attained advanced degrees or are in graduate programs. The ultimate goal of this U.S. Department of Education TRIO program (started in 1987) is to diversity the professoriate.

Dr. Hinsdale ended her informative talk with some practical ideas to exemplify the Will Rogers quote: “Go out on a limb–that’s where the fruit is.”

Mentoring is a personal and reciprocal relationship in which a more experienced, usually older, faculty member acts as a guide, role model, teacher, and sponsor of a less experienced, usually younger, student or faculty member. A mentor provides the protégé with knowledge, advice, counsel, challenge, and support in the protégé’s pursuit of becoming a full member of a particular profession.

77% of the graduates of the McNair Scholars Program have either attained advanced degrees or are in graduate programs. Eight alumni have already attained the PhD, and seven have earned professional doctorates. The ultimate goal of this U.S. Department of Education TRIO program (started in 1987) is to diversity the professoriate.

Dr. Hinsdale ended her informative talk with some practical ideas to exemplify the Will Rogers quote: “Go out on a limb—that’s where the fruit is.”

Going out on a limb requires a mentor to signal openness and conduct a relationship that allows for mutual connection. A mentor must be curious about the protégé all the while respecting who the protégé really is. A mentor must want the protégé to succeed and take their ideas seriously. Mentors have to be willing to adopt an “inquiry stance”, lay down their defenses and be willing to share power and voice critical understanding of privilege.

From this discussion of Dr. Hinsdale’s work, we see that her book, which can be found on Amazon or in the Westminster Bookstore, elaborates the complex process that is mentoring and the wide range of skills which are required to mentor well and with satisfaction.

—Lauren Florence, MD

 

President’s Report

Sometimes I have a hard time thinking of something new to write about each month. Plus lately I’ve been extra busy. But I know a couple of individuals who are struggling with serious health problems. Plus, they are struggling with obtaining needed resources, in one case, and obtaining disability benefits in another. So this awareness of the “struggling” I see reminds me of a good subject (well related) to write about. That being the lack of a Medicaid plan for Utah. Still, after all this time, nothing. I mean, they have had quite a bit of time since the first opportunity to implement something came available a few years ago. But the decision makers are happy to pat themselves on the back for being fiscally responsible. As if that were really the case as they try to lure business with tax breaks and allow other corporations to pollute without much in the way of any useful restrictions. But I digress.

So, what does it say about our culture here in Utah that everything is business as usual while people want for basic health care? It would appear to me that there is a total lack of empathy (from conservatives) for the needs of a large number of fellow human beings. This seems a bit odd to me because on the one hand the dominate religion here, LDS, does do a lot of charity work and giving. But on the other hand we have those in our state government who are almost all of the LDS faith that refuse to get anything done for the needy. It does seems that the bottom line, profits, matters of money are more important than the needs of some who are struggling and even desperate for help. And recently we’ve seen local media reports make reference to statistics that state that a number of people have died due to the lack of action on the part of our legislature.

Sometimes it’s a little baffling to me that we Americans haven’t come to some sort of collective awareness, that if we provide a few of those basic needs like food shelter and basic health care, we will have a healthier society in general. Why don’t we understand COLLECTIVELY that if people aren’t stupefied by poverty and ill health they might be more productive, happier, and less prone to destructive or criminal behavior? I know some will cry about the evils of socialism, but some aspects of socialism are worthy ideals when implemented rationally.

I’m well aware that providing health care for those who have little or no means to pay for it is an expensive endeavor. But I think it can and must be done, for all the moral and practical reasons that are so blaringly apparent to all. Except, of course to certain uncaring conservatives.

—Robert Lane
President, HoU

Dear Minister Elaine

We are doing an episode on Polyamorous weddings/commitment ceremonies (triads or larger) or even those who are planning a proposal. We will be shooting in the next few weeks so we are hoping to find partners who have imminent plans [and] would allow us into their lives leading up to the big day to shed light on committed polyamorous relationships! Would you know of anyone who might be interested? After speaking to so many wonderful polyamorous families who fear coming forward, I am passionate about finding partners who feel they are ready to talk about this on a national platform. MTV is committed to telling stories that will influence tolerance and respect and address biases that we may not even know we have. Check out their campaign: http://www.lookdifferent.org/about

—Z.P., Casting Director for MTV True Life

 

Dear Z.P.,

While I have been certified to provide officiating services to non-theistic Utahns since 2011, I have not yet been asked to officiate at a Poly/Open wedding or commitment ceremony. I do, however, strongly believe that polyamorous families, especially those in committed relationships, raising children with multiple partners, need to have their voices heard! They are out there, but as you point out, far too many are living in fear of coming forward in their communities.

I’ve chosen to answer this question of yours publicly through our Humanists of Utah monthly newsletter, in the hope that someone will see that MTV True Life is interested in telling their stories! Thank you sincerely for working to break down the barriers that our society has erected to exclude non-traditional families from public recognition, understanding, and support. All families deserve to be open and honest about who they are, and who they love!

Please submit questions relating to humanism, ethical living, complicated life decisions, etc. to Minister Elaine Stehel at ministerelaine@gmail.com

—Elaine Stehel

Health Care Reform Task Force

You have all heard or read about the Utah Legislatures efforts to create an acceptable health care plan for those individuals falling within the “coverage gap” as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act.

The Gang of Six and Utah House of Representatives have been toiling away for months…behind closed doors…and finally coming up with UTAH ACCESS +.

Would you believe they then invited the general public to a meeting in the House Building to present the “fruits of their labors”? Well, Robert and I took advantage of this open-ness and attended on Tuesday, October 6, in the afternoon.

The Main Room 30 was packed so two overflow rooms were made available with audio and video accessibility; but we were provided only with audio. I was pleased to see numerous white T-shirts in all three rooms, as the Alliance For A Better Utah suggested we wear. During the session their reactions, like ours, as to what was going on were quietly voiced now and again.

A clipboard was passed around for anyone to sign either Pro or Con on the UTAH ACCESS +. Within a short period of time there were quite a few signatures, people hoping to be called upon for a comment or question. (at the end of two hours only a few  private citizens had the opportunity to speak).

An Agenda also was furnished listing all those who were invited to participate. This was a long list of those from the medical field; such as the Utah Hospital Association, Utah Medical Association, Utah Pharmacies, on and on…17 in all. Oh, I thought, this is great. As UTAH ACCESS + would be partially funded by doctors, hospitals. etc. The responses and comments were (not surprisingly) negative in endorsing this plan.

So much of the time was taken up by the legislatures pressing questions upon these spokes persons.  Also they kept droning on and on about the millions and millions of dollars and percentages here and there and explaining charts, that my eyes glazed over and attention was almost nil.

After about an hour of this, I realized this was a “set up” by these legislators. A plan brought before us, in the open, which they knew would not “pass muster” with those they designated to pay for Utah’s share of any costs of the plan.

How could a legislative body representing the electorate in Utah so flagrantly flaunt a plan such as UTAH ACCESS + and manipulate this much needed health care in this way?????

—Sally Jo Fuller|
—Robert Frahm