Book by: Caroline S. Turner (Ed.)
Review by: Yury Riascos
Department of World Languages
University of South Florida
Inclusion and cultural sensitivity are driving forces of diversity that colleges and universities strive to develop. In an effort to support the number of diverse students across the nation, faculty and advisors alike take on mentoring roles by providing guidance, collaborative networks, and pathways to success. The fall 2015 edited collection for the journal, New Directions for Higher Education, issue number 171, titled “Mentoring as Transformative Practice: Supporting Student and Faculty Diversity,” exemplifies some of the practices around various universities and colleges that highlight key elements in building mentoring relationships that include the perspectives and the stories of both mentors and mentees.
Advisors can gather many takeaways about mentoring relationships by reading this issue. For instance, mentoring is seen as a strategy to retain and support underrepresented minorities by making the educational process more humanized and holistic (p. 4). Through the journal, mentees’ personal narratives or testimonios are used to highlight the relationships that had demonstrated to be effective and it mentions various best practices. The authors illuminate the interactions that were most successful, such as the ability of a mentor to create networks, support systems, and transparency, as well as be able to validate the mentee’s voice. A mentor is also one to be able to help a mentee create a professional voice, empower and challenge students about their strengths and weakness, as well as provide safe spaces where mentees can reflect and discuss career aspirations. This journal issue describes the key elements of mentorship interactions that have been effective with supporting underrepresented minorities in higher education. Advisors can learn that students are multifaceted individuals who need to be embraced for the complexities they bring into our perspectives (p.25). Advisors can also learn that the personal experiences that are brought into advising offices cannot be taken out of the relationship. Getting to know the student is part of authentic encouragement that can lead to stronger bonds. This issue is useful in that any advisor in a mentorship role can easily learn practices to cultivate effective mentoring relationships.
Even though the journal mostly discusses graduate advising and mentoring, readers can find many helpful tips about effective mentorship relationships. Advisors interested in mentorship relationships with their minority students will benefit from reading this book. Conversely, this issue could benefit from a chapter that directly discusses the challenges associated with the creation of these types of relationships, given the time constrains and realistic student-to-advisor ratios in undergraduate advising.
The best features of this issue are the number of ways that relationships within intercultural individuals have been successful and how these interactions can be applied to existing student relationships. Simply summarized “Diversity requires creating ways of using and building with existing differences rather than ignoring them” (p.68) I would recommend the issue to advisors who are interested in cultivating a lasting bond with their students beyond a prescriptive session. Underrepresented minority students are more prevalent in higher education, and as faculty and staff are becoming more representative of their student populations, advisors need to be able to construct positive inclusive support systems.
Mentoring as Transformative Practice: Supporting Student and Faculty Diversity. (2015). Book by Caroline S. Turner (Ed.). Review by Yury Riascos. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 112 pp., $29.00, (Paperback). ISBN 978-1-119-16106-6.