In my advising, I seek to support students so that they can succeed in their academic goals and contribute to the broader community. I work hard to ensure that every willing student can succeed, and I provide flexibility and support to students who encounter personal or intellectual obstacles.
1. Challenging Life Circumstances
I know the challenges of balancing personal circumstances while maintaining a career. My husband passed away from cancer in the year before I began my Ph.D., and I was his caregiver through numerous treatment programs and in the months leading up to his death. During that time, I was a full-time master’s student, and he was a Ph.D. student. I believe that students can and do thrive academically even in the midst of personal challenges, but compassionate and supportive faculty are essential. During my master’s and Ph.D. programs, I received incredible support and mentorship from faculty and friends in my department.
As a Teaching Fellow at Columbia, a number of my students cared for family members during disease and other personal crises. Many of these students were also first-generation college students, veterans, or primary providers in their families, and they had multiple factors working against their ability to succeed in their studies. I worked with them to manage their academic demands so that they had more time and energy for their personal responsibilities. I met with students outside of office hours and gave extra advising over email if their caregiving required them to miss lecture or section. I encouraged them to speak with their advisors and counseling staff to make informed decisions about their academic careers.
I am aware of the specific challenges that many students experience while conducting international fieldwork. I spent almost two years living alone in Brazil conducting fieldwork in major metropolitan areas and isolated rural areas. Both environments brought different risks with personal safety and violence that are exacerbated for female researchers. Colleagues have shared with me the additional fieldwork challenges they face due to their skin color, income status, sexual orientation, and other reasons.
I am fortunate that advisors and colleagues helped me to identify the risks and make specific plans, such as checking in at the end of each day and traveling in rural areas with a colleague. I would like to partner with my colleagues to hold workshops on practical tips for fieldwork, especially for students who face specific challenges, and I will work closely with my students to conduct research and internships wherever they want in a productive and safe way.
3. Statistical Methods
I seek to support my students, especially women, in statistical methods. I have seen during my own studies and as a Teaching Fellow that female students tend to have lower self-confidence with mathematics, and they tend to have had less prior exposure to coding. Women and people of color interested in seriously pursuing statistical methods have fewer role models.
As a Teaching Fellow, I took extra measures to encourage my female students and others, especially veterans, older students, and those from underprivileged backgrounds, to be confident in their mathematical abilities. For students with limited technology experience, I held extra sessions and office hours and directed them to data librarians and advisors on campus. Many of the comments in my teaching evaluations speak to my successes in this area. I look forward to creating research opportunities for students and advising them in their own work.