University of Wisconsin–Madison

Graduate Peer Mentor Awards

The Graduate Student Peer Mentor Awards recognize graduate students who exhibit stellar mentorship qualities. These graduate students are selected based on their ability to mentor undergraduate and/or graduate students, on or off campus.

Applications for the 2019 Peer Mentor Awards will open in Spring 2019.

2018 Peer Mentor Award Winners Liza Chang, Folagbayi Arowolo, and Amelia Cuarenta; and Dr. LaRuth McAfee, assistant dean in the Graduate School
2018 Peer Mentor Award Winners Liza Chang, Folagbayi Arowolo, and Amelia Cuarenta accept their awards from La Ruth McAfee, assistant dean of diversity, inclusion, and funding in the Graduate School. Not pictured: Sarah Stefanos, Maria Velazquez. (Photo courtesy of the Student Leadership Program)

Qualities of a Good Mentor:

  • Willingness to share knowledge, skills, and expertise

    A good mentor is willing to teach what he/she knows and accept the mentee where they currently are in their professional development. Good mentors can remember what it was like just starting out in the field. The mentor does not take the mentoring relationship lightly and understands that good mentoring requires time and commitment and is willing to continually share information and their ongoing support with the mentee.

  • Provides guidance and constructive feedback

    One of the key responsibilities of a good mentor is to provide guidance and constructive feedback to their mentee. This is where the mentee will most likely grow the most by identifying their current strengths and weaknesses and learning how to use these to make them successful in the field. A good mentor possesses excellent communication skills and is able to adjust their communication to the personality style of the mentee. A good mentor will also provide the mentee with challenges that will foster professional development and a feeling of accomplishment in learning the field.

  • Personal interest in the mentoring relationship

    Good mentors do not take their responsibility as a mentor lightly. They feel invested in the success of the mentee. Usually this requires someone who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and possesses the attributes of a good teacher or trainer. Excellent communication skills are also required. A good mentor is committed to helping their mentees find success and gratification in their chosen profession. Overall good mentoring requires empowering the mentee to develop his/her own strengths, beliefs, and personal attributes.

  • Values the opinions and initiatives of others

    A mentor who values others is also someone who works well in a team environment and is willing to share his/her success. A good mentor appreciates the ongoing effort of the mentee and empowers him/her through positive feedback and reinforcement.

  • Motivates mentees through setting a good example

    A mentor is usually highly motivated, dedicated, and has a strong work ethic themselves and by exhibiting these qualities, sets a good example for mentees.

  • Looks for ways to improve mentoring skills

    A mentor strives to improve her or his skills by keeping up with best practices. Fortunately, at UW–Madison there are a number of resources that can help with this. For instance, programs like Delta offer mentor training opportunities. The Institute for Clinical and Translational Research offers resources for research mentors. Finally, faculty such as Prof. Angela Byars-Winston research quality mentoring habits and want to help more people take up these habits. These and many other efforts have led UW–Madison to be a leader of the National Research Mentoring Network.

Graduate Peer Mentor Awards Past Winners

The 2018 Peer Mentor Awards recognized students whose mentorship has supported students from underrepresented backgrounds. Read more about the 2018 Peer Mentor Award winners.

Folagbayi Arowolo

Peer Mentor Award winner Folagbayi ArowoloFolagbayi is a PhD candidate in Molecular and Environmental Toxicology, researching the impact of dietary oxidized lipids on gastrointestinal immunity and chronic disease risks. He serves as a mentor for first-year graduate students through the SciMed Graduate Research Scholars (GRS) Community. Folagbayi also mentors high school students through the Critical MASS (Multicultural Advanced Science Students) club, which encourages students to pursue STEM fields. He helps promote diversity initiatives on campus as a member of the Black Graduate Professional Student Association (BGPSA) and Wisconsin Association for Black Men (WABM).

Liza Chang

Peer Mentor Award winner Liza ChangLiza is a PhD student in Psychology, studying behavioral neuroendocrinology. Her research in Anthony Auger’s lab focuses on the role of the endogenous opioid system in social behaviors and the development of juvenile psychiatric disorders. In the Auger Lab, Liza has mentored 12 undergraduate students, many of whom have completed independent projects, earned co-authorship on research manuscripts, or continued on to graduate school or post-graduate research positions. Liza is also a Mentoring Fellow with the Wisconsin Institute of Science Education and Community Engagement (WISCIENCE).

Amelia Cuarenta

Peer Mentor Award winner Amelia CuarentaAmelia is a PhD student in Psychology. She has a passion for understanding how someone’s experiences can affect not themselves, but future generations. She studies epigenetic mechanisms, seeking to enhance understanding of how life events shape people’s futures. She has trained a number of undergraduate students in several research areas in Anthony Auger’s lab.

Sarah Stefanos

Sarah StefanosSarah is a joint PhD candidate in Sociology and Environment and Resources, researching land deals in Ethiopia and biofuels in Uganda. In parallel to her academic interests, Sarah co-founded and has served as CFO of W2E Ltd, a waste-to-energy research company in Uganda that specializes in biogas systems and technological and business innovations at the intersection of energy and agriculture. She has mentored undergraduate students at UW–Madison and Makerere University in Uganda, as well as a master’s student and a high school student. Sarah is also a member of the UW–Madison chapter of the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.

Maria VelazquezMaria Velazquez

Maria is a PhD student in Educational Policy Studies, researching educational environments that directly and successfully address opportunity gaps and create additive learning experiences for minoritized and low-income youth. She is a graduate student advisor for the UW Posse Program, an Accessibility Assistant for the McBurney Center.

Peer mentor awardees
2017 Peer Mentor Award Recipients. Back row left to right: Shahrose Rahman, Kevin Cope, Johnny Uelmen. Front row: Hannah Graham, Meena Syamkumar.

Hannah Graham

Shahrose Rahman

Kevin Cope

Meena Syamkumar

Johnny Uelmen

Dantrell Cotton

Fatemah Panahi

Leona Yi-Fan Su

Valyncia Raphael

Angie Umaña

Richardson Addai-Mununkum

Majid Aksari

Hsun-Yu Chan

Angela Forgues

Stacey Kigar

Mark Mederson

Kristin Michels

Claudia Pereira da Conceicao

Irene Ann Resenly

Douglas Ryddner

Kegon Teng Kok Tan

Jake Walsh

Yi-Cheng Wang

Kaitlin Whitney

Dallas Wulf

Hong Yan

Trevor Young-Hyman

Megan Zuelsdorff

Jess Clayton

Mahtab Ghazizadeh

Vijay Limaye

Somayeh Sardashti

Kegon Teng Tok Tan

Keith Thraen-Borowski

Qiwei Wang

Caro Williams