The Power of Passionate Mentoring Mentoring Moments Features
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Features  |   January 01, 2007
The Power of Passionate Mentoring
Author Notes
  • Christopher Moore, is professor and chair in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington, and earned his PhD at Purdue University in 1985, under the direction of Anne Smith. He grew up in China Lake, California, second of three sons to Don and Pat Moore. Contact him by e-mail at moorechristopher@nidcd.nih.gov.
    Christopher Moore, is professor and chair in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington, and earned his PhD at Purdue University in 1985, under the direction of Anne Smith. He grew up in China Lake, California, second of three sons to Don and Pat Moore. Contact him by e-mail at moorechristopher@nidcd.nih.gov.×
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Professional Issues & Training / Features
Features   |   January 01, 2007
The Power of Passionate Mentoring
The ASHA Leader, January 2007, Vol. 12, 16-17. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR6.12012007.16
The ASHA Leader, January 2007, Vol. 12, 16-17. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR6.12012007.16
Challenged to identify my most significant mentoring moments, I am struck immediately by the paradox of “mentoring” and “moments.” Mentoring certainly has its moments, but the essence of mentoring entails a continuity of education and acculturation—as well as a good measure of serendipity—rather than a series of definitive events.
Like most scientists, I suspect, I’ve been mentored by context, by expectations, and by values, rather than by specific moments. Growing up in a remote desert research installation, I never had to look too far to find some excited chemist, physicist, or engineer drawing on his napkin and gesturing excitedly about a scatter plot. In this Cold War weapons-testing enclave with a populatiion of 12,000, more than 80 miles from the nearest restaurant, the real rock stars were the scientists. No question.
My dad, a research scientist himself, was my first and most influential mentor. He roused me out of bed early one morning to show me his first Hewlett-Packard pocket calculator. A true marvel! He gave me a surplus oscilloscope when I was 8 years old, although I had no clue what it was for, and pointed me, probes in hand, toward all things electrical. My dad was effusive in his praise and respect for professors of all sorts. Linus Pauling, double Nobel Laureate in chemistry and peace, was one of Dad’s own professors, and one of his often-quoted heroes. My mom was a nurse who further infused in me the importance of service to others.
Thus, for me, mentoring began almost prenatally; my only task—besides figuring out that oscilloscope—was to consider my own affinities and identify a discipline that could draw on basic phenomena like acoustics and neurophysiology to make life fundamentally better for others. Speech-language pathology was my ideal fit, with its large and perplexing scientific questions, and the potential to improve so many lives. There was no moment that took me there, only a steady acclimatization to “what matters.”
It comes to me, then, with a bit of surprise and even mortification, to realize that for all my planning, self-direction, and early start, I came to work with my most influential scientific mentor, Anne Smith, by pure kismet. Arriving at Purdue several years after I did, Anne presented research opportunities that were immediately captivating. My good luck in timing meant I was there to assist her in setting up her lab, learn how to prepare manuscripts and grant proposals, find out about the academic career ladder, experience the thrill of experimentation, and do actual work with an oscilloscope. As with any apprenticeship, I was immersed in the practice of research academics. Anne’s continuous mentoring facilitated my orientation and assimilation into the society of research scientists, passing on to me its accumulated principles, values, procedures, and expectations. In Anne’s lab, the exuberant culture of research was pervasive and intoxicating. Lunches turned into journal club meetings, experiments morphed into lectures, and one day, students became colleagues. More than 20 years of cultivation would have turned out very differently had it not been for the remarkable mentorship of this gifted leader and scientist.
Recently I lost my dad, my first and best mentor. Reflecting on all of the ways he still influences me, I am moved to consider my own influences on my colleagues, my children, my students, and my friends. I’m sure my dad would find the idea of a singular mentoring moment to be, as he often said with exaggerated emphasis, “beside the point.” Gandhi captured well the scope of the challenge to mentors in his more general counsel to us all: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Like parenting, a mentor’s influence is cultural and pervasive, sometimes fumbling, but steadily nurturing, deeply invested, and at its core, exemplary.
January is National Mentoring Month

by Silvia Quevedo

ASHA would like to thank all mentors, past and present, for contributing to the professions by mentoring students and colleagues. Few of us can claim success in our jobs without the help of someone along the way who encouraged us, shared mistakes and triumphs, and guided us to achieve.

A special thanks to the more than 400 mentors and mentees who participate in Mentoring Academic Research Careers (MARC) and Student to Empowered Professional (STEP) programs in the ASHA Gathering Place.

“It is an honor to be able to mentor. It is not a burden,” said Byron Ross, a speech-language pathologist and assistant professor at the University of Central Arkansas.

Aly Rivero, a student at Ohio State University, said, “my STEP mentor has been my personal sounding board, advice source, and saving grace.”

Chris Gaskill, a junior faculty member at the University of Alabama and MARC mentee, said, “I have really enjoyed corresponding with my mentor. Despite having very different teaching and research interests, he has provided me with some great advice and encouragement for getting my faculty career off to a good start.”

This is just some of what participants are saying about their mentoring experience with the ASHA Gathering Place’s online mentoring programs. Be sure to celebrate National Mentoring Month by taking a moment to thank your mentors for their time and dedication. If you are a mentor, you can take pride in the rewarding experience of working with the next generation of professionals.

To learn how you can participate in the ASHA Gathering Place mentoring programs, visit Mentoring: The ASHA Gathering Place or e-mail marc@asha.org or step@asha.org.

Silvia Quevedo is ASHA’s manager of academic affairs. Contact her at squevedo@asha.org.

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January 2007
Volume 12, Issue 1