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The Leadership Alliance Commitment to Outstanding Mentorship

Previously: Guide Overview

The mission of the Leadership Alliance is to develop underrepresented students into outstanding leaders and role models in academia, business and the public sector. This goal is still relevant today as we strive to meet the national demand for diverse leaders to compete in a global economy. Since its founding in 1992, the members of the Leadership Alliance consortium have committed themselves to fostering a more diverse workforce by mentoring diverse students at critical transitions along the academic pathway. The Summer Research – Early Identification Program (SR-EIP) has been a cornerstone of that effort. The SR-EIP is a fully paid summer internship that provides undergraduates with the training and mentoring necessary to conduct research and pursue competitive applications to PhD or MD-PhD programs. Since 1993, the SR-EIP has engaged thousands of undergraduates in intense summer research experiences at some of the nation’s most competitive research universities. Nearly half of SR-EIP students have not previously participated in an external undergraduate research program. Similarly, nearly half are enrolled at a Minority Serving Institution (MSI). Nearly two-thirds of our most recent SR-EIP cohort were women. The diversity of our students extends to their interests as well. SR-EIP offers closely mentored research experiences in the life and physical sciences, the social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities at research institutions across the country.

We offer this guide out of our passion for and expertise in mentoring and a recognition of the challenges of virtual mentoring and guiding undergraduates through digitally-mediated research. Leadership Alliance faculty and administrators have distinguished themselves as mentors at their home institutions and as part of Leadership Alliance programming, typically maintaining rich mentoring relationships with mentees across the country. As a consortium of dozens of research and teaching institutions, we have been able to marshal best practices and lessons learned in diverse settings. In pursuit of our mission of mentoring along the critical pathways, we have applied mentoring best practices to emerging researchers at diverse career stages. To date, these efforts have resulted in nearly 600 Leadership Alliance Doctoral Scholars, each of whom is an alumna or alumnus of a Leadership Alliance program and has obtained a PhD or MD-PhD. These outcomes are due in no small part to the role of mentors in the SR-EIP. Evaluations of our programs bear this connection out. In 2019, 89 percent of SR-EIP participants found that the program was “very useful” in increasing their self-efficacy as researchers. Participants were also asked to rate their mentors across 17 individual indicators. Mentors were consistently rated as “excellent” or “good” across all categories, from “valuing your input” (90 percent) and “making you feel like an integral part of the research project” (90 percent) to “being available to discuss and respond to questions about your research” (89 percent) and “offering guidance and advice on your research” (89 percent). These ratings reflect the effective mentoring behaviors that have contributed to making SR-EIP as valuable as it is to its participants. This guide compiles resources to support Leadership Alliance mentors in their efforts to optimize their digital mentoring relationships with diverse scholars.

Up next: The Benefits of Mentoring