Faculty Perspective: Dr. Cody Hollist
This past year I worked with Corey Minchow, who did an incredible job on a very difficult project. Corey was responsible for obtaining and cleaning a nationally-available data set that is difficult to use. The data set is the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that began data collection in 1997. We were particularly interested in high-risk behaviors and mental health issues as they relate to family functioning.
Corey has been involved in designing the direction of analysis and the identification of key variables. Because of his efforts at understanding the variables and the data set, we were able to identify important indicators for analysis. While I was there to steer Corey in the right direction, his initiative was important to the success of the project. As a mentor I can help point him in the direction of literature or teach him about statistics and analytical approaches, but what I can’t teach him is personal investment and initiative.
Our project was successful because Corey was committed to solving the many barriers that present themselves during the process of research. This initiative was invaluable in our research, just as it is for the academic success of any first generation college student.
My work was greatly enhanced through involvement with the McNair program. Corey was able to put the effort into a project I had not had the time to tackle. His work has led to several presentations at local and national levels, a manuscript in preparation and the groundwork for further grants. Not only has Corey benefited from experience in this program (I hope) but I have as well. His work has furthered my research agenda.
Although it was Corey’s commitment to this project that made this project successful, the mentoring relationship is a collaborative process that is necessary for success. Working together in any field or in any project more than doubles the potential for success. I find that one of the biggest sources of professional frustration for me is the feeling of isolation. By working with the McNair students it gives me not only the opportunity to coach and teach them the process of research but it enhances my research by giving me someone to bounce ideas off and discuss potential directions. From my perspective, the mentoring relationship has bidirectional benefit.
The last thing I want to say about the McNair program is the impact of mentoring on first-generation college students. I think mentoring is important for all students but I think it is vital with first-generation college students. I was a first-generation college student and had it not been for a mentor who helped me understand the university setting I would not have finished my undergraduate degree, let alone an advanced degree. Mentors in the McNair program serve not only as research instructors but, more importantly, as cultural brokers to help students navigate a very bureaucratic environment of higher education. I cannot stress enough the benefit I see through the McNair Program.
— Cody Hollist
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