Mentorship Builds Special Student-Professor Relationships
"One joy of working at Ithaca College," says clinical instructor of speech-language pathology and audiology Susan Durnford, "is the opportunity to mentor students." For the past couple of years Durnford has had a mentor-protégé relationship with Emily Morin '99.
This mentorship ranged from intermittent guidance by Durnford as a club coadviser during Morin's presidency of the National Student Speech- Language- Hearing Association (1998-99) to more direct assistance with Morin's off-campus graduate assistantship duties during her last year and a half. Under Morin, the NSSLHA received the "club of the year" award from the Office of Campus Center and Activities. As a graduate assistant, Morin compiled early-literacy kits for off-campus practicum sites, mentored first-time clinicians, and provided administrative and research support to an interdisciplinary training program at Longview. In this program she also collaborated with assistant professor of therapeutic recreation and leisure services Linda Heyne on a presentation they delivered at two national conferences. Durnford accompanied Morin to the national meetings, introducing her to leaders in the SLPA field, including Ithaca alumni.
The mentorship didn't stop when Morin left Ithaca in October for an externship at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, Connecticut. Durnford helped move Morin out of her apartment in Ithaca (they're packing the car in the photo above) and was Morin's externship supervisor, communicating via phone and e-mail and staying in contact with Morin's on-site boss. "Emily did fantastically well, which is what I expected," says Durnford. And now Emily has her master of science degree from Ithaca College as well, having graduated in December.
Developing the "Whole Person"
The mentor relationship between faculty and student can be a tremendous experience for both. Although HS&HP doesn't have a formal program, informal mentorship is widely practiced. Such relationships often focus on development of the "whole person," as well as on career decisions. Mentors share their wisdom with students through networking at professional meetings, opening up new opportunities for personal growth and development, and sharing personal experiences. Students in turn share their knowledge and experience with faculty members, sometimes giving back, according to Durnford, almost as much as they receive.
Durnford's colleague in SLPA, clinical associate professor Marie Sanford, supervised Jana Morrissey '00 through three clinical assignments. They included, says Sanford, "the treatment of an adult second-language learner for accent modification, a diagnostic evaluation of a Korean child who was autistic, and a team-intervention program with an adult group. With my guidance and the growth of her awareness and sensitivity, Jana exercised her skills of therapeutic integration to come up with some important treatment options." Sanford and Morrissey subsequently coauthored a peer-reviewed paper and delivered it at the national convention of the American Speech- Language- Hearing Association.
Karen Nolan, assistant professor of physical therapy, has a joint appointment at Ithaca College and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She participates in a Maternal and Child Health Bureau training grant, under which, for the past four years, she has mentored Ithaca College graduate clinical fellows in physical therapy. This year Nolan has been working with Amanda Grob '00, whose decision to apply for the fellowship, says Nolan, "helped her clarify her goals and also helped her decide to pursue pediatrics as a specialty, to become active in a PT professional organization, and to be a key organizer in a recent continuing education program offered through our PT department." As part of her practicum, Grob provides PT services to community organizations. She also performs assessments at the Kirch Center, the physical disabilities clinic at the Children's Hospital at Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital.
Making Contacts on a National Level
Therapeutic recreation and leisure services associate professor Janice Monroe and Christina Meneses '99 had another great mentor-student situation. Meneses was Monroe's advisee and an officer of Rho Phi Lambda, the national honor society in recreation. With Monroe's guidance, Meneses coordinated successful fund-raising efforts to send students to the New York State Therapeutic Recreation Association's annual conference. At the conference Monroe introduced Meneses to recreation professionals, and Meneses presented her work on cultural/language implications in the provision of TR services. She also presented at the national association's conference. NYSTRA gave Meneses its student of the year award in 1999 and its young professional of the year award in 2000. After graduating, Meneses first worked at Longview, programming recreational therapy activities. Her relationship with Monroe still continues in her current job, which is as a credentialing specialist for the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification.
In occupational therapy, assistant professor Diane Long assisted Sarah Gillis '99 with a fieldwork proposal. Gillis had an idea about creating services for teenagers at her fieldwork site, a hospital; she used a format she learned from Long to present the proposal to the hospital administration. Not only was the proposal accepted, but Gillis was hired to run the program as well.
As everyone points out, the most difficult part about mentor relationships in higher education is that students leave. But many such relationships continue for years after graduation, sometimes even for life. Durnford puts it this way: "It's bittersweet to see Emily move on, but it will be exciting to see what she does with her life."
Photo by George Sapio