Skip to main content

Professor Clifford Johnson and Dean Valerie Ashby offer advice to students

Valerie Ashby
Valerie Ashby

Two scientists from underrepresented backgrounds spoke to graduate students recently, thanks in part to the Initiative for Minority Excellence (IME) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Valerie Ashby, dean of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University, spoke about imposter syndrome.

During her talk, about 60 students from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke heard Ashby share points of resiliency to combat impostor syndrome. Ashby stressed the importance of having a supportive circle of people who listen, celebrate accomplishments and speak honestly about what students need, but don’t want, to hear.

Ashby, former chair of the chemistry department at UNC-Chapel Hill, speaks about this topic every year with IME scholars.

Clifford Johnson
Clifford Johnson

Clifford Johnson, professor in the physics and astronomy department at the University of Southern California, shared his career history and insights about his personal and professional successes. Undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars attended the conversation with Johnson.

Johnson spoke about mentorship and said that students and postdoctoral scholars need to actively seek the mentors they want and need. One mentor may not be able to address all of a student’s professional or personal development needs, he added.

Johnson’s event was a collaboration with the Chancellor’s Science Scholars, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity and the Minority Postdoc Alliance.

These events and many others held throughout the year are designed to foster community and empower graduate students, said Kathy Wood, co-director of the Diversity and Student Success program at The Graduate School.

IME, based within Diversity and Student Success, focuses on retention and the successful graduation of underrepresented minority graduate students through academic success, professional training and community development. All students who identify as an underrepresented minority are welcome to join this community.

IME offers three empowerment groups to bring students together in a safe space for support and encouragement: Brotherhood of Success, for men of color; La Familia, for Latinx students; and Sisterhood of Empowerment in Academe, for women of color.

Visit the IME website to learn more about upcoming events.

By Christine Scalora

Comments are closed.