Robert Smith is a research grantee who has extensive experience mentoring at all levels, from high-school and undergraduate students to doctoral students, junior faculty members, and community leaders. Most of his mentees are people of color, with many also being foreign born, LGBTQ , and women. He acknowledges, however, that as a White, straight, non-immigrant man, he enjoys a general presumption of legitimacy in the academy that is not shared by students and junior scholars who do not share these identities. Smith has identified three learning goals related to mentoring. First, he wants to be more intentional about mentoring across difference, particularly learning about the specific challenges underrepresented faculty face in the academy. Second, he seeks to be more aware and structured in his approach to mentoring students in order to reproduce successful mentoring practices and refine others, and to take a more proactive approach to mentee challenges due to structural discrimination or underrepresentation in academia. Third, he will work on bringing these insights into institutional settings and practice for greater impact throughout CUNY. This award will support Smith’s mentee, Andrés Besserer, a second-year gay Mexican doctoral student in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center. Besserer’s research focuses on how immigration, trauma, victimization, and interactions with law enforcement impact the civic and political engagement of undocumented immigrant youth and youth with undocumented family members.
Smith will use this award to learn to be more intentional about mentoring across difference, particularly learning about the specific challenges underrepresented faculty face in the academy.