January is National Mentor Month

MARGARET WERNER-WASHBURNE, MIDDLE, SERVES AS THE PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR OF THE INITIATIVE FOR MAXIMIZING STUDENT DEVELOPMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO. SHE IS JOINED HERE BY HER IMSD COLLEAGUES, NANCY HURTADO-ZIOLA, LEFT, AND LUPE ATENCIO, RIGHT.| CREDIT: ROY RICCI

“It is my hope... to wake up higher education to the potential that every student has. That our students are not little machines to be spit out after 4 years…It's getting more challenging to mentor our students, but they are the future and it can be a bright one with the right leaders.”

For almost 30 years Margaret Werner-Washburne, Regents Professor Emerita of Biology at the University of New Mexico and principal investigator of the UNM-IMSD program, has mentored undergraduate students in her lab. With a focus on underrepresented racial and/or ethnic minority students, she has mentored over 118 students to pursue doctorates. Her mentees have gone on to work in academia and industry, in fields from computer science to genomics and biochemistry to chemical engineering, and are becoming leaders in STEM research, education, and diversity.

One of her main lessons: Each student should “know their heart” and find out what they love. Once they know, she says, they have self-motivation and the rest is fun.

The impact of a strong mentor on a child, young adult, or even a graduate student’s life is truly immeasurable. Through lessons learned from past experiences and selfless perseverance, a strong mentor can provide essential tools for their mentees to be successful, confident, and empowered to pursue their personal and professional goals.

AAAS has a long history of encouraging and nurturing the mentor-mentee relationship. For over 25 years, we have awarded the AAAS Mentor Award and the AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement recognizing individuals who have mentored significant numbers of students from underrepresented groups or who have changed the climate of their institution to significantly increase the diversity of students pursuing and completing doctoral studies in the sciences. Professor Werner-Washburne will be honored this year during the 183rd AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston on Friday, February 17.

Click here if you would like to honor your mentor by supporting AAAS with a tax-deductible gift to the Flexible Action Fund. Should you wish, AAAS would be pleased to share with your mentor that a gift has been made in his or her honor.