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Excellence in Diversity Fellowship Program

Comments from Former Fellows

Fellows have made the following comments about these program components:

Overall Program Impact
The EDF program provided very useful information about the multidimensional facets of an academic career. The supportive environment allowed me to ask questions without feeling embarrassed (i.e., like it was something I was already supposed to know), which was very important. Additionally, bringing together a group of diverse, engaging new faculty members along with a great set of facilitators provided an important sense of connectedness to the University community. (2008-09 Fellow)

The program introduced me to colleagues in other departments with whom I have developed successful collaborations. It gave me the time and space to think about time management issues, writing habits, and teaching strategies – all while developing an important network of friends. (2008-09 Fellow)

I definitely feel like the program helped me start the year on the right foot. Both the August teaching workshop and the fall retreat were extremely useful and somehow even comforting. There were so many aspects of the first year of UVa that seemed totally new back in August. Things seemed exciting but also a bit overwhelming. Both of these beginning of the year events not only demystified what this first year was going to be about, but also introduced me to other people who were going through exactly the same things. (2009-10 Fellow)

The program gave me confidence, navigation instructions, a set of friends, peers and mentors across UVa who share my same goals yet are not competitors, and a sense of how academia works and how to work it. (2010-11 Fellow)

EDF introduced me to allies in other departments and in the administration. These folks not only provided moral support but material support. They gave us important information and resources. In my case, thanks to my EDF mentor, I met a wonderful collaborator with access to medical school samples for our research. (2010-11 Fellow)

The EDF Program was a “jump start” for my U.Va. career in every respect that I can think of. I had the opportunity to develop a network of peers – other junior colleagues outside of my department who were also EDF Fellows – and this not only enriched my sense of what my first year at U.Va. could and/or should be like, but also enriched my social life at a time when I was building one from scratch in a new place. Because of EDF workshops and meetings, I was able to begin to put names, faces, and functions of University administrators together much more quickly and coherently than I ever could have on my own. (2004-05 Fellow)

EDF reinforced my sense of being welcomed and valued; it broadened my awareness of the university outside my own and related disciplines; it put faces to the names of high-up people in the administration; and, not to be underestimated, it gave me more exposure to the TRC, which is an incredible asset and resource for junior faculty. (2003-04 Fellow)

It has been wonderful to be with and learn from a diverse group of interesting peers from across grounds with surprisingly similar concerns.  It is fascinating to see what types of challenges each of us faces and hear what others suggest and how each one tackles the various challenges.  It has also been helpful to spend some time with more experienced colleagues and senior faculty and administrators to get a developmental sense of the University and the various Schools.  I expect that I will continue to reflect on and draw from my experiences with this program during my years to come. (2003-04 Fellow)

This was a wonderful experience that I would strongly recommend to other junior faculty of minority backgrounds. (2003-04 Fellow)

I think the program was very helpful in giving me a sense of place and community – in other words, helping me feel at home.  I also have a better sense of how the university “works,” by which I mean the important but not necessarily formal policies and procedures.   I think that these aspects of the EDF program will be very useful as I navigate my way through being an assistant professor. (2005-06 Fellow)

The most beneficial aspect of the program was to help me become conscious, from the outset, of the things that will become crucial to my success during the years ahead.  Everything from the workshops on tenure and promotion, negotiating skills, dealing with faculty politics, the workshop on getting published…granted, I learned a lot from these meetings, but, more importantly, they were useful in getting me to reflect on my own about where I’m headed. (2006-07 Fellow)

The EDF program has made a great impact on my connection to the University community.   It is sometimes easy to feel limited by the Department – the EDF program has made it clear that I am not only a member of my Department but also a member of the University at large, and that there are many resources and opportunities beyond the Department’s boundaries. (2006-07 Fellow)

Mentoring Relationships
My consultant gave me advice and comfort on both a professional and personal level. Professionally, she guided me to particular resources, helped clarify somewhat ambiguous processes that any junior person might undergo, and she encouraged my writing and research in multiple ways, not least by offering to read several drafts of my papers! Personally, she offered advice on integrating work life with scholarship and teaching and she became a good friend. (2008-09 Fellow)

My consultant was very helpful with suggestions about teaching, what was realistic to try to accomplish during my first year, and also as a person to talk to about navigating some issues . . . It was great to have someone from outside my department to talk to honestly about these things. (2009-10 Fellow)

My mentor was *AMAZING* We met every month and, every month, I left our meeting feeling like I could do more than I had imagined. She connected me to other researchers and administrators who have helped me move my research forward. For example, she introduced me to a wonderful researcher, now a collaborator, at the medical school. She also put me in contact with university offices that might fund undergraduate research assistants. Thanks to her advice, my stellar research assistant has summer funding to work on independent research this summer. (2010-11 Fellow)

The excellent mentoring program of the EDF Fellowship gave me the opportunity to seek advice regarding research, teaching and funding from well-established faculty members in Sciences and Engineering. The regular meetings with my mentors have helped me a great deal in understanding the challenges and the rewards of a long-term career in Sciences at the University of Virginia. (2004-05 Fellow)

My relationship with my mentor will extend beyond this year.  As much as anything, I think that her supportive approach and respect for my work helped me to gain confidence as I transitioned from the student to assistant professor role.  Because she is very open about her work, she was able to provide me a number of insights into the unspoken social and political aspects of academia.  As a mother and academic, she also provided useful information about managing a family and academic concerns. (2004-05 Fellow)

My consultants were very friendly from the outset, and it meant a lot to me to receive lunch invitations before I even arrived in Virginia. They were both open and helpful. I went to observe a class taught by one of my consultants, which was very useful for me. My other consultant has been encouraging me to submit work for publication and checking in on my research, teaching and general progress. (2004-05 Fellow)

Socially, she helped me to understand the style and culture of UVa which helped immensely at meetings and other group events.  She advised me about course load, teaching responsibilities and career planning for the year.  She helped me to set an agenda of questions to ask my chair regarding tenure in all three areas:  research, teaching and service.  She provided me with the tools I needed to start thinking about turning my dissertation into a book.  She answered a handful of questions through out the year that were minor but that could have turned into major problems if I hadn’t had someone to turn to for advice. (2005-06 Fellow)

My consultant greatly facilitated my integration with the broader UVa community, introducing me to other colleagues, inviting me to events, etc.  This fostered my sense of understanding of the University and belonging to the community.  He has also provided access to resources and advice about handling specific departmental situations and planning my career. (2006-07 Fellow)

As graduate students and even perhaps as post-docs we tend to travel as part of a cohort. Becoming new faculty can be a difficult transition precisely because you enter into the department alone (unless it is a very big department which has simultaneously hired other junior people) I now have friends in the other Fellows and directors of the EDF program–these friendships can’t be overestimated. Seeing familiar and friendly faces can make your first year as faculty a less lonely and daunting experience. (2008-09 Fellow)

Being able to talk to peers experiencing the same transitions and the same challenges (teaching in a new institution, learning UVA institutional culture, time management etc) was key for developing my own personal strategies and for better understanding the challenges faced by junior faculty across departments. (2008-09 Fellow)

I have developed strong friendships and collaborations out of this program that have simply been the best thing about moving to Charlottesville and UVA. I am a member of a writing group that grew out of EDF. I know from friends that the first year can be isolating, but the EDF helped me get to know a great bunch of people, some of whom I often saw outside of EDF. (2008-09 Fellow)

This program made a huge difference in my sense of connection to the university. I tend to get a bit too caught up in my own little work world, particularly when I am feeling pressed for time or behind with research or teaching. I feel like if it wasn’t for the EDF program I would have missed out on some really neat opportunities, conversations and people. The program forced me to get out of my little bubble and go to the various events – and every single time it was worth it. (2009-10 Fellow)

First and foremost, [being part of the EDF Program] helped me feel that I belong here; it helped me feel more at home. … being part of the program has provided me with a network of colleagues in which I do not feel judged and I can be myself. Here, I am allowed to be new. I can ask those obvious new-kid-on-the-block questions and I can question traditions and norms that existed way before I arrived. … The open atmosphere of the group, sharing our experiences and trying to help each other, learning of others difficulties and successes, made me feel that I could help and make a difference on others’ experience here. (2009-10 Fellow)

I met a wonderful group of people with whom I could share my experiences and anxieties about starting my career and around whom I could completely relax and be myself. In addition, I made connections with two researchers who have similar interests and will collaborate with them in the future. (2009-10 Fellow)

My relationships with the other assistant professors in EDF are invaluable. Sharing our stories of failures and triumphs kept me sane. Stories of failures made me feel OK about my own. Stories of triumphs inspired me. (2010-11 Fellow)

Regularly being in touch with other 1st year assistant professors was very helpful in terms of knowing that the problems/issues I was facing for the first time (time management, connecting with my class, departmental politics, etc.) were also being faced by others. Feeling a part of the community was incredibly helpful from an emotional support standpoint. Also, seeing all the new activities my colleagues were participating in motivated/inspired me to do more (both in teaching and research). (2004-05 Fellow)

I was able to learn enough about my new life as a teacher and researcher that I was able to find my feet quickly in the first month, despite the many unforeseen challenges of both occupations. The EDF program also brought me immediately together with a group of peers who were by and large confronting the same challenges for the first time; this camaraderie not only gave rise to many productive conversations and sharing of ideas, but also provided crucial emotional support at a trying time.   (2004-05 Fellow)

The word that comes to mind is a community of my peers… I was able to see how people are making this life that we have chosen work as I am trying to answer the same questions. (2005-06 Fellow)

This is one of the greatest benefits of being involved in this program. Although many issues differ between departments and schools, the transition from graduate student/postdoc to junior faculty causes the same apprehension in all of us. Issues relating to teaching for the first time, managing the work-life balance and this sudden position of authority are common concerns. (2006-07 Fellow)

This was one of the best aspects of the program.  It really makes you feel more connected to the larger University community.  It’s also very helpful to talk to others who are just starting out who come here with many of the same questions and concerns.  I imagine I would have felt a bit more isolated had I not had this kind of monthly exposure to my colleagues in other fields.  More importantly, I made a few friends, which definitely helped facilitate my transition to UVa and to Charlottesville. (2006-07 Fellow)

Conversations with Senior Administrators
A neat experience…One of those “I would NEVER have spoken to these people or gotten these insights if it wasn’t for this program” type of events. I liked the Q&A session. (2009-10 Fellow)

It was an invaluable experience to meet university administrators in informal settings because the exposure helped lessen my anxiety when I eventually approached these administrators with various projects and concerns I had as a new faculty member. (2004-05 Fellow)

This Program allowed me to connect with people in the upper administration in a very comfortable way.  The introduction and welcome to these circles being an EDF affords – especially for minorities and women – is significant. (2003-04 Fellow)

I found it extremely helpful to meet with the senior administrators.  Meeting them helped put the face to the name, which greatly reduced anonymity and made administrators more approachable.   I also appreciated hearing their perspectives.  Knowing what the leadership thinks, plans, etc. makes a big difference since those perspectives are rarely heard at the Departmental level.   This session was an opportunity to get valuable information. (2006-07 Fellow)

What I got out of this event was a sense that the administration is really here to support us.  I sometimes forget that there are many people higher up and outside my department who are also committed to my success.  It was refreshing to hear how much these administrators think about and work on the issues that young faculty face. (2006-07 Fellow)