Barbara Riegel, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA
This all changed when I met Kathleen Dracup (Dean Emeritus at UCSF School of Nursing), who became my mentor when I was a doctoral student at UCLA. Kathy was adept at seeing what I needed to learn and where I needed to grow. She didn’t restrict her mentoring to our academic relationship. That is, she helped me to grow personally and professionally. She taught me how to write, critiqued my early public speaking endeavors, and gave me opportunities for publishing. She recommended me for opportunities that opened many doors. She shared things about herself with me, which made me feel close to her. To this day she always has wonderful anecdotes and a parable readily available to illustrate what she is trying to teach me. I have grown immensely over the years with her as my doctoral advisor, my colleague, my friend. But perhaps the way that I grew the most was as a mentor.
At this point in my career, the honor and the accolade that I value the most is appreciation from my students in my ability to mentor. As Kathy, I try to learn what each student needs as an individual and push, pull, cajole, and celebrate that person to achieve at the highest level of ability. I try to emulate Kathy by being real, open and approachable. I also try never to work alone – reviewing, writing, thinking are all activities to be shared with my mentees. Importantly, I stress that we are a family so that students learn to be generous scholars and mentor the students behind them. Last fall I hosted ~30 of my prior graduate students in my home at what we called the “Riegel Family Reception”. It was a wonderful celebration with former students who came from all over the world. If only Kathy Dracup could have attended.”
To submit your own story, visit: www.nursing.upenn.edu/humans.