Gayle Slaughter - Importance of Mentoring

Uploaded by ScienceCareerPath on 27.07.2012

I had an eighth and ninth grade science teacher that saw things in me I didn't see in myself. She not only cultivated my interest in doing science fair projects,
she actually had a friend nominate me to be an officer in the Lucy Anna Junior Academy of the Sciences. I went on to be secretary for two years and president and I served
on the board for an extra three years. As a young person developing ideas about how to do science, that was truly a pivotal point in my career.
Along the way there were a few other people who believed in me. There were a lot who didn't. There were many people who told us that it was not worth their effort
to educate girls to do science because we were going to get married and have babies and never actually do anything with our careers. We heard that more often than not,
but there were always some people who believed in me. Then when I came to Baylor College of Medicine, I met phenomenal scientists who helped me develop my scientific career
and then one of the most extraordinary people who probably lived in the entire last century, Dr. Michael DeBakey, a physician, a researcher, a statesman,
he loved the projects I started when I was a non-tenure track assistant professor. A project of a SMART undergraduate research program
and he is someone who took a special interest in me and encouraged me at several points along the way. There were even times when we didn't have enough money to run
the program, I went over to talk to Dr. DeBakey, and what he said was "How much money do you need?" and he'd write me a check for $70,000.
That's real support, but his support as a mentor meant a great deal to me, and I was very happy when he asked me to help his youngest daughter with some of her own career advice.
Mentoring is something that you do and you pass along. Each of us who's had the benefit of mentors now really plays the role of trying to help other people.
What you might not realize, though, is you learn as much from the people you're mentoring as they learn from you. I'll be exhausted and one of my students will come in
and tell me about something wonderful that's happened in their life, a new award they've won, that now they have a job at NIH, or a first generation college student has a job at Yale,
or one at Stanford, and when you hear things like this, you realize how much you learned from those students. Mentoring has been important to me in every kind of direction.