Graduate Faculty Mentor—August 2012
- Dr. Ruben Mestril
After receiving the “Graduate Faculty Member of the Year” award my thoughts wandered towards the road that brought me this far. As a graduate student, I remember struggling with the process of finding a laboratory with a good mentor to do my dissertation work. This was not an easy task since laboratories that are well funded are headed by very busy investigators that have very little time to spend with graduate students. I ended up choosing a small laboratory that was headed by a junior faculty member. In retrospective, this turned out to be a wise choice. This young investigator's drive to pursue his career goals resulted in a strong impetus for all in his lab to pursue their own goals. One of the most important things I learned dur ing this period is that the relationship between mentor and mentee depends heavily on good communication between both parties.
The original character called “Mentor” in Homer's Odyssey, was not only a teacher but also a source of wisdom. During my post-doctoral training I came to realize that investigators that run large laboratories make for less efficient mentors because they don't have much time to share their wisdom. By then, however, I was in the process of converting from mentee to mentor. Once confronted with the responsibility of being a mentor, I realized how serious of a task it really represents to be a good mentor. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to mentor some excellent graduate students who made the job seem easy. I learned that good mentoring depends not only on the mentor but also on the mentee, since after all good communication is a two way street. It has become a great source of joy for me to see how well my former graduate students have done in their respective careers. This is probably one of the greatest rewards that one can receive as a mentor.
In my capacity as Assistant Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs, I have the opportunity to share what I have learned about good mentoring techniques with our postdoctoral trainees in the Health Sciences Division. My hope is that one day they will develop into excellent mentors and remember all they learned at Loyola University Chicago.