FIU Professor Receives National Award for Mentoring Graduate Students of Color
Dr. Dionne P. Stephens, an assistant professor of psychology at Florida International University in Miami, was presented one of two national Faculty Mentor of the Year Awards on Oct. 28 at the nation’s largest gathering of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students and faculty.
Dr. Stephens was honored at the 24th annual Institute for Teaching and Mentoring, which convened nearly 1,000 Ph.D. students, recent graduates and faculty members Oct. 26-29 in Atlanta.
She was nominated for the award by one of her mentees, FIU doctoral student Brittany Boyd, who wrote that Dr. Stephens “participates in promoting the advancement of women through research and practice.” Ms. Boyd also wrote in her nomination letter that “as a woman of color, I expressed to Dr. Stephens my loneliness in classes and my difficulties finding other students of color to connect with on campus. She helped me create the Black Graduate Women’s Association at FIU, which is a student group that aims to promote black women on campus in professional and personal development. She currently serves as our student groups’ mentor and provides professional mentorship to all the women within the group.
“She went above and beyond her professional duties of being a mentor and this reflects her activism and advocacy towards issues impacting women,” Ms. Boyd wrote.
“Their success is my success,” Dr. Stephens said as she accepted the award, noting that she had strong mentors in her own life and career. Her research is aimed at reducing health disparities, with an emphasis on examining diverse cultural beliefs’ influence on intimate relationships and sexual health decisions in marginalized populations.
Dr. Stephens received her Ph.D. at the University of Georgia, her master’s degree at the University of Buffalo, and her bachelor’s degree at York University in Toronto, Canada.
“Ph.D. students of color still can be the first such person in their respective graduate programs. These Mentors of the Year provide crucial support for students, so they in turn can finish their doctorates and become faculty members and excellent mentors themselves,” said Dr. Ansley Abraham, the director of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Doctoral Scholars Program.
The SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program leads the Institute each year in conjunction with members of the Compact for Faculty Diversity. These programs provide support for underrepresented minority Ph.D. students to increase faculty diversity across the South and U.S.
SREB is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Atlanta that works with 16 member states, including Florida, to improve education from pre-K through Ph.D. (www.sreb.org)