(396f) Peer Mentoring in Graduate School - Fostering Diversity to Achieve Scholarly Excellence

Moran, S. E., University of Michigan
Adefeso, O. E., University of Michigan
Vilas Boas Favero, C., The University of Michigan
A peer mentoring program was implemented in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan with the aim of building and sustaining a more diverse graduate program. The “peer mentor” program consists of selected senior PhD student “mentors” paired with groups of 6 first-year PhD student “mentees”. Peer mentor groups are selected to maximize diversity with respect to gender, ethnicity, and research interests. Groups meet regularly in both academic and social settings to facilitate social bonds between students. Mentees indicate increased collaboration and social cohesion in the department versus PhD students who did not participate in the peer mentor program. Importantly, these gains were maintained in second-year PhD students after the program. Mentors also benefited from the opportunity to lead a group of first-year graduate students, serving as invaluable training for mentors considering career in academia. Overall, a majority of program participants would recommend the program to other Chemical Engineering departments.