Mentoring is an important aspect of faculty involvement with Textiles graduate students. Faculty and graduate students take mentoring seriously and devote significant amounts of time to ensure successful results. Mentors serve as role models every day. They model ethical standards, critical thinking, laboratory techniques and practices, organization, planning and many other crucial skills. Mentoring in Textiles goes beyond advising or serving as a role model. It involves guiding and instructing students in a growth-oriented direction. Mentors and graduate students treat each other respectfully. Faculty and students work side by side to learn by example and to encourage new abilities. Our faculty members are committed to the process and time of mentoring.
Specifically our faculty provides guidance and advice about the requirements for the MS degree. The course requirements depend on the individual student’s needs and strengths and are generally flexible. The multidisciplinary nature of this graduate program aims to build strengths in either social or physical science while providing broader knowledge and appreciation in the interdisciplinary areas. Faculty mentors offer guidelines for thesis work and suggestions for timely initiation and completion.
Mentors are deeply involved in the thesis research. The strengths and weaknesses of the research are explored and openly discussed with student. Students are encouraged to explore new ideas and develop their own ideas and to build on those findings. Mentors are responsible for monitoring their progress and critiquing written work. Discussions and negotiations regarding clear criteria for authorship of collaborative research usually happen early in the research process. Mentors help find sources for financially supporting the student through teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships, internships, etc. They seek information about the needs of the students and provide assistance obtaining other resources. High quality work and productivity in research are often rewarded with continuing research funding for research or travel to professional meetings.
Professional development is extremely important for mentors and students. Graduate students are encouraged to network with other scholars on campus and in the larger professional community. Mentors act as advocates for students in academic and professional communities. Student memberships in AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemist and Colorist) and ITAA (International Textile and Apparel Association) and other professional groups are encouraged. Mentors encourage and critique oral and written presentations and suggest participation at professional meetings such as the National Textile Center Forum and other national and international associations. Students are strongly encouraged to apply and given assistance preparing their applications for travel funds. Mentors provide career guidance and assistance with CV preparation, job interviews and letters of recommendation. The multidisciplinary nature of our group promotes suggestions for a variety of career options. Students are expected to take coursework and assistantships in physical, social, and cultural aspects of textiles and clothing. A student’s individual goals provide the basis of their development and mentors add to that by suggesting other options and encouraging diverse opportunities to learn.
Graduate students accept some responsibility for successful mentor-mentee relationships, too. Students are encouraged to discuss their changing needs with their mentors. In the case that the mentor is not able to assist with a graduate student’s needs, other members of the faculty or the professional community should be suggested. Both mentor and student need to recognize each other’s time commitments and responsibilities. Regular communication will facilitate good mentoring and excellent professional development. A good mentor will guide a graduate student through their academic degree and possibly throughout their career. We hope that our graduate student will become mentors to other graduate and undergraduate students and continue to mentor others throughout their careers.