Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

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Student Mentoring at ICYFP

The multi-disciplinary faculty, lecturers and researchers at ICYFP actively participate in mentoring relationships with graduate students at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. We believe in building strong relationships and offering high-quality, practical research experiences. Students contribute constantly to our success in expanding the diversity of our research interests and winning new grants.

For example, ICYFP Senior Scientist and Associate Director Dr. Pamela Joshi, PhD ’01 (the first Sol C. Chaikin fellow in family and child policy) is mentoring the current Chaikin fellow, PhD student Kate Giapponi. The two found a mutual interest in improving access and quality of child care, especially highly vulnerable children. Kate worked with Dr. Joshi and other ICYFP researchers to write a successful research proposal to study changes to the child care voucher reassessment process in Massachusetts. This opportunity offered Kate a chance to gain proposal writing skills with a mixed methods research team, provided funding for her as a research assistant, and gave her access to administrative data for her dissertation research.

Dr. Joshi says “offering a high-quality mentoring experience is an extremely important part of my job. Working with Kate has expanded my child care policy research agenda.” Of Joshi’s mentorship, Kate says, “Dr. Joshi has been an invaluable component of my doctoral experience.  ICYFP’s focus on the quality of mentoring relationships is key to the program’s future success.”  The two submitted a mentored scholar grant for Kate’s fourth-year dissertation research, and plan to co-present at a conference in late 2014.

ICYFP Scientist and Lecturer Dr. Lindsay Rosenfeld, ScD, ScM, also mentors many students, offering guidance on academic, career, and research opportunities. For PhD student Ms. Drew Zachary, Dr. Rosenfeld is involved with the Heller experience on many levels: Drew is a teaching assistant in her undergraduate and graduate epidemiology courses, she offers guidance on Drew’s dissertation research on food access and SNAP policy, and the two have submitted research funding proposals together. 

“Mentoring is creative problem-solving,” says Dr. Rosenfeld, “. . . be it strategizing about how to best learn a new skill, tackle an interview or present a research idea. I love working with students because I am challenged to constantly analyze – in many different ways – the exciting and complicated field of social policy as well as to reinvent the ways in which I’m doing my teaching, research, and other work. Mentoring contributes to my work and also gives me renewed energy.”

Drew Zachary notes that Dr. Rosenfeld's mentoring “helps me to get the most out of my doctoral experience. She shapes my work at Heller by providing guidance for choosing courses, forming a dissertation committee and writing a proposal, making policy career decisions (including planning for interviews), and navigating research processes such as applying for grant funding and presenting at conferences.  As her TA in two courses, she also helped me to craft my own teaching and mentorship skills. Dr. Rosenfeld is someone I can learn from and collaborate with on many projects; I also count on her for support around the ideas and projects I want to pursue.”

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