We have consolidated all of our University news sources into one location called BingUNews. Inside stories published through 2016 will remain available here. Stories published in 2017 and later will be found at BingUNews. Enjoy!
Students receive advice at Faculty of Color Panel
February 22, 2012Tweet
Watson School Dean Krishnaswami Srihari encouraged students at the Faculty of Color Panel to embrace the diversity of the University’s campus in an increasingly globalized world.
“This campus provides you with a microcosm of what the world is,” he said. “There are over 100 countries represented on this campus. Use that to enhance your ability, not only for teamwork, but also teamwork among a really diverse population.”
The Faculty of Color Panel, hosted by the Multicultural Resource Center, was held Feb. 16, in Old Union Hall. Srihari was one of five panelists, including School of Management Dean Upinder Dhillon, Mathematical Sciences Department Chair and Professor Fernando Guzman, Associate Professor and Chair of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Nagendra Nagarur, and Assistant Professor in the College of Community and Public Affairs Robert Palmer.
Panelists identified networking as an important goal for a successful professional future. “Now, whether we like it or not, we are in a very flat, globalized world,” Nagarur said.
“I think it is very important, when you belong to a minority group, not to isolate yourself, not to create a network of people only within that group,” Guzman said. “If you are able to build a network that is diverse, ethnically and racially, then it will help dilute that sense of isolation, of being separated from the crowd.”
To begin their network, students can turn to faculty. “It is important to get to know your professors out of the classroom,” Palmer said. He suggested going to office hours and engaging faculty in meaningful conversations about the subject matter they are teaching.
Oftentimes, faculty can act as mentors for students. Guzman said “having faculty who will encourage you, who will challenge you” will benefit students immensely.
“I think it’s really important to get to know faculty,” Srihari said. “If they get to know you, and invest time in you, there is a perceptible change in your academic and professional career.”
But, a mentor does not always have to be faculty. “I think you have to, as a student, find the appropriate mentors for you,” Guzman said. Such a mentor could be an older student, or a staff member.
“Mentoring is something you should keep throughout your life,” Guzman said. If students are interested in becoming professors, Guzman suggests finding a mentor in a more senior faculty member.
“I think it’s very important for students to understand that they’re not just by themselves performing in the classroom,” Dhillon said. Aside from faculty, another way to “enable your success,” as he put it, is to form successful study groups.
Peer groups allow students to collectively work on problems and gain different perspectives. Also, Guzman said explaining a solution to a problem or complex concept not only enables others to understand the subject matter, but in explaining you improve your own understanding of the subject. “Until you explain something to someone else, you haven’t really understood it,” he said.
“The peer group is really important,” Palmer said. “Who you surround yourself with will have an impact on how you view education, and how you perform in a classroom.”
Panelists encouraged students to go above and beyond what is required in the syllabus. “Don’t be satisfied with the bare minimum requirements,” Guzman said. “If your calculus instructor says to do problems 1-10, do problems 1-10, and then look at problems 11 and 12 and think: ‘Maybe I can do these, too.’”
Dhillon wants his students to have a “macro” view of their education. “I want my students to view the educational process as much broader than simply getting an A,” he said.
Nagarur said he likes to see students read sources beyond what is required. He suggested finding additional material on the Internet, or on the library website.
According to Dhillon, overcoming a challenge is an incredible learning success. He described a situation he experienced when he was in graduate school that was challenging for him.
“When you’re in these sink-or-swim situations, how you respond to the situation is going to define your life. Your life is going to be full of challenges, but it’s how you respond that’s going to define your future,” he said.
One thing Palmer struggled with at his undergraduate institution was the culture of the campus. From Philadelphia, he was used to larger cities. The institution he attended was in Shippensburg, Pa. The atmosphere there was very different, and each semester he said he wanted to transfer. But he got involved and took a more active role in his education. He built critical relationships with faculty, and in the end he did not want to transfer.
Srihari spoke about challenges he experienced coming to study in an American institution as an international student. For him, the way classes are taught was very different from the undergraduate institution he attended in India. He said the grading scheme and expectations are all very different.
Guzman experienced similar difficulties. Even in his undergraduate institution in Colombia, “one of the difficulties I found a lot was not knowing the ropes,” he said. In a foreign environment, he said it was difficult to learn how things operated at this institution.
“As you go through your life, you’re going to see changes. You’re going to see challenges. But don’t let that stop you,” Srihari said. “The only constant you’re going to see (in life) is change.”