Society for Medical Anthropology, January 2014, Vol. 2 No. 1
Mary Read-Wahidi (U Alabama)
Jonathan Stillo (CUNY Graduate Center)
Each year, a committee of SMA student members reviews nomination letters for the annual Graduate Student Mentor Award. Each year we are encouraged and inspired as we read about professors who place student mentoring at the forefront of what they do. We see a clear connection between outstanding mentors and the successful career paths of their students.
Professor Marcia Inhorn was awarded the title of 2013 Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor. Those who’ve had the honor of being mentored by her have gone on to pursue successful careers, which they strongly link to Dr. Inhorn’s mentoring. As one of her former students declared, “Marcia Inhorn’s mentorship has changed my life.”
One reviewer wrote to the award committee, “What I found so striking about Inhorn is that many of her supporters are now junior faculty all over the country and even the world.” It is clear that despite Inhorn’s institutional moves over the years, she has supported her students even after her departure, enough so that her file includes her students from Emory, Michigan and Yale. These students found her supportive from the classroom, to grant writing, publishing and even in their tenure reviews.
Inhorn has been a strong mentor to her students from grad school to well beyond. One of her students even commented that she had been a mentor for more than twenty years! Another former student wrote, “Marcia was my doctoral advisor at the University of Michigan, my postdoctoral supervisor at Yale, and, now that I am a junior faculty member, continues to offer career mentorship and is also a collaborator.”
Another former students wrote, “Perhaps the reason that Marcia is most deserving of this award is not that she has provided such amazing mentorship and opportunities for me, but the fact that she has done similar things for many generations of students.” Echoing this, one reviewer commented that it was clear that Professor Inhorn was a mentor not only to individual students, but also to the academy at large.
Nearly every letter mentioned that she was always accessible, and gave prompt and meaningful feedback. One writer shared: “Everything about Marcia’s relationship with me and her other students demonstrated the highest level of respect and concern for our success. When sending her drafts of work, she sent back comments promptly; if she was going to be delayed, she’d tell us in advance. And, it’s worth repeating, her comments, and the way she discussed our papers in person, made clear her great passion for teaching. Marcia is extremely passionate about her research, but she’s just as passionate about her students.”
Not only is she recognized as a successful researcher and an amazing teacher, but also as someone who genuinely cares— simply “an amazing human being.”
“On one occasion, she mailed the pages [of my dissertation] to me with a toy camel packed in the box,” shared one letter. The writer continued, “She had read the chapters on her flight to the United Arab Emirates and bought the stuffed animal for my daughter, then a year old. I recall being grateful equally for her comments and for the camel.”
The appreciation that Professor Inhorn’s former and current students feel was especially evident by their presence at the SMA business meeting where she was presented with the MASA mentor award. A large number of them gathered by the stage to personally congratulate her as she received the tremendously well-deserved honor.
Special thanks are due to Misty Clover Prigent and Britt Dahlberg for joining Mary Read-Wahidi and Jonathan Stillo on this year’s selection committee, to all those who took time to nominate their outstanding mentors and to write support letters on their behalf, and to all the outstanding mentors who share so much of their time and wisdom with their students. We will circulate a call for nominations for 2014 Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award later this year, and we encourage all readers to nominate graduate medical anthropology professors whose mentorship has made a difference in their lives.
One writer shared: “Everything about Marcia’s relationship with me and her other students demonstrated the highest level of respect and concern for our success. […] Marcia is extremely passionate about her research, but she’s just as passionate about her students.”