Ball State Graduate School Blog

Where will graduate school take you?

Award winner tapped mentoring to increase opportunities for minority students

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It’s apparent based on her work that Dr. Robin Phelps-Ward, who earned both her graduate and doctoral degrees from Ball State, recognizes the power of mentoring for all students, but particularly the difference it can make it the lives of underrepresented minority students. She co-created a mentoring program at Ball State that targets students looking to earn advanced degrees and worked with Pro100 initiative, a community program to help underrepresented youth in Delaware County.

She is paving path for these populations of students, not only through her own research, but as an example and role model. Her dissertation, examining the effects of mentoring programs on underrepresented students, earned her the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Dissertation Award, making Phelps-Ward the first woman of color to receive the award.

Dr. Thalia Mulvihill, professor of social foundations and higher education, nominated Phelps-Ward for the award, writing, “While I have taught and advised over 1000 graduate students within the last 21 years, rarely have I encountered a student so passionately enthusiastic about the relationship between her scholarship and teaching, matched with an imagination for innovative research projects that is palpable.”

In her nomination of Phelps-Ward, Mulvihill also emphasized how Robin’s work is being recognized by scholars in the field. In November 2014 the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) invited Robin to participate in a special Graduate Student Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. Robin was nominated for the prestigious, national K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award and the International Congress for Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI) Qualitative Dissertation of the Year Award.

Phelps-Ward’s work will leave a lasting impression at Ball State as the Ph.D. Pathways program continues to grow. She is further pursuing her passion and research as a faculty fellow at Clemson University.


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