In collaboration with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), iAGRI conducted a one-day open seminar on May 17, 2016 on mentoring programs for lecturers, undergraduates, and graduate students. The purpose of the seminar was to highlight the need for mentoring to support emerging professionals in academia environments. The Mentoring Program is one of the institutional strengthening measures iAGRI supports at SUA to build capacity and support junior members of staff.
Speaking during the seminar, Prof. Carolyne Nombo, iAGRI Gender Specialist and Acting Principal at the College of Social Science and Humanities at SUA stated, “Initially, graduate students learn that advanced study differs immensely from their undergraduate experience. As undergraduates, the goal was to obtain knowledge. In graduate school, the goal is to contribute knowledge to a particular field of study.” Prof. Nombo stated, ‘’Graduate school is the professional training ground where students learn the skills to be successful in their fields and gain an understanding of how their disciplines work. Mentoring is imperative, not only because of the knowledge and skills students can learn from mentors, but also because mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate success in graduate school and beyond,” she elaborated.
Contributing on the engaging discussion, Prof. Susan Nchimbi-Msolla, Dean of College of Agriculture at SUA shared with participants that she was mentored during her school days. During the workshop, she stated, “Many students enter their graduate programs with little understanding of the complex landscape of higher education or how different philosophies in graduate programs drive expectations for academic excellence and ideal career pathways.” She noted that while many faculties and graduate program directors acknowledge this, practical solutions and measures such as mentoring programs are not put in place.
Program Manager of Leadership Management at iAGRI, Asia Barnabas emphasized the utility of the Mentoring Program. She stated, “Quality mentoring greatly enhances students’ chances for success. Students who experience good, quality mentoring also have a greater opportunity of securing tenure-track positions and have greater career advancement potential in administration or sectors outside of universities.”
The seminar included presentations by mentored students who give testimonies on what they had achieved after going through previous Mentoring Programs organized and supported by iAGRI Past participants included Neema Sumari, currently an Assistant Lecturer in Software Engineering at SUA. Neema stated, “Much of our learning that contributes to our success happens not through a book, but through world experience.” For more information on the Mentoring Program, visit the project page here.
Written by: Kelvine Kazimoto, iAGRI Communications Intern