Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Spring/Summer 2017, Volume 18. Number 1.
When Lia Rushton asserts that “it takes a village to raise a fellowship recipient,” she accurately describes the culture of mentoring and undergraduate research at Winthrop University, where often faculty not only refer students to my office but also email or call me to make sure I plan to seek them out. In one such recent referral, a colleague used a term I’ve heard and winced at many times, suggesting I “groom” a certain student for a particular award. Coming as it did on the heels of my first reading of Rushton’s “First, Do No Harm,” this call made me wonder what “grooming” entails and in what position it puts a student relative to the Fellowships Office. It also made me wonder how thinking of myself as a “groomer’ might possibly do harm to the students I seek to help. This grooming suggestion is applied most often to our honors students. I speak at numerous honors functions and go into each Academy 101 honors section twice each fall semester, so clearly I am on board with making the services of my office known to students early in their college careers. Being on the English department faculty, I have a certain sensitivity to language and perhaps an overdeveloped sense of its power to influence our thinking and thereby our relationships. I look, therefore, for ways to avoid “grooming” students and seek to engage them in self-discovery instead. To battle the grooming mentality and to add to Rushton’s emphasis on the value of drawing out students verbally, I champion the importance of writing to their process of self-discovery.