Today@Sam Article

COE Professor Named Distinguished Faculty Mentor By The Graduate And Professional School

June 3, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

By Lidia Gutierrez

Jessica McQueston has been recognized for her work on mentoring three graduate students this year in the Sam Houston State University Graduate and Professional School’s ASPIRE/ROAD to PhD program. She was honored with the Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award at the ASPIRE/ROAD to PhD Appreciation and Celebration Dinner.

“I was surprised, humbled and thankful to receive this award,” McQueston said. “When my name was announced, I looked around for a second to see if this was real and to wait for someone else to stand up.”

From left: Debra Balandran and Jessica McQueston.

This award recognizes a faculty member who has shown exceptional dedication, support and guidance to their students.  It also honors an individual who goes above and beyond in mentoring others, whether it’s in academia, research or professional development. Nominees for the award are determined by mentees, then evaluated by the award committee for consideration. McQueston was nominated by her mentee, Debra Balandran.

“It’s important to recognize that it doesn’t change how I have and will continue to support students,” McQueston said. “I don’t mentor two students in the same way. I allow the student to help guide what the mentoring relationship looks like.”

In the fall, McQueston collaborated with a single graduate student. This spring, she has been working with two graduate public health students who she will continue to mentor until they graduate. Throughout the semester, she consistently met with her students to foster ongoing discussions on professional development and growth. She partnered with both of her spring mentees to organize a Safe Sex Trivia Night for a program supported by McQueston, who is the Faculty in Residence at Piney Woods Hall. Additionally, she facilitated a connection between one of her mentees, Balandran, and the College of Education, connecting her with faculty and staff participating in the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) conference.

“Her mentorship has not only shaped my academic journey but has also instilled in me a newfound resilience and determination to succeed in both my professional and personal life,” Balandran said. “Meeting professionals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines not only enriched my academic experience but also provided invaluable insights and perspectives.”

McQueston believes in the impact of mentoring and recognizes that their own growth is the best part of the process.

“My mom was one of the most influential people in my life,” McQueston said. “We talked about mentoring and making things better for the next generation. I won this award two days before my mom’s first birthday in heaven. I know she was and is still proud of what I am doing today.”

For more information about the ASPIRE/ROAD to PhD program, visit The Graduate and Professional School’s website

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