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Evelyn Simien

Evelyn SimienField:  Political Science
SR-EIP:  Cornell University (1995)
Undergrad:  Xavier University of Louisiana (1996)
Graduate School:  Purdue University (2001)
Current:  Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, Political Science

Could you talk about any memorable experiences from your summer research at Brown?
The thing I was most impressed with was that I think they had fourteen libraries at Cornell.  Coming from a historically black college that didn’t have those resources, it was overwhelming, but in a good way.  I felt humbled and blessed.

I participated in a different program the previous summer, and the Leadership Alliance was more intimate, there was much more one-on-one attention from my mentor.  Looking back on it, I’m awed by having had the experience of working with Anna Marie Smith.  She was a very hands-on mentor.  We met every week and she made arrangements for me to meet with other faculty and graduate students.  She reviewed drafts of my statement of purpose and she wrote a letter of recommendation for me when I applied to graduate school.  I’ve remained in touch with her and I still see her at professional conferences.  She really took care of me.  She was very forward thinking in that she helped me look beyond the 8-10 week program to the application process and what graduate school would actually be like.

Can you talk about the role of mentorship in your career?
Anytime you represent a group that is underrepresented, you’re going to draw lots of students.  I naively thought it would just be students of color, but it has also been women across races.  I initially thought I would return to teach at an HBC, but I was on a panel at Purdue and an undergraduate stood up and said “what about us?”  I realized that there are students at all schools who need positive mentorship.<

What advice would you give to this year’s Leadership Alliance participants?
First and foremost take the GRE-prep very seriously.  In this day and age, don’t take anything for granted.

Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
Don’t doubt yourself.  Enough people will give you a lot of reasons to think that you can’t do it, but you can’t be guilty of that sort of self talk.