A tremendous amount of work goes into putting together an application for a Ph.D. program. The application process also relies on quite a bit of implicit knowledge – information that’s not written in applications or posted online. Often, prospective graduate students, even those who already work in labs, are not aware that this implicit knowledge exists. Rather it’s passed down through generations of graduate students. These differences in implicit knowledge can lead to disparities in opportunities.
To address this issue, this year the Tamil Academics Society is kicking off for the first time a mentoring program, our Graduate Application Mentorship Program, that matches graduate student mentors with applicants from underrepresented groups (women, first-generation students, applicants from low-income backgrounds, applicants with disabilities etc.). Although our focus will be on helping applicants from underrepresented groups, we invite all Ph.D. applicants to seek mentorship. Each mentee will be assigned a mentor in a similar field. The mentor will guide the applicant through the process, share unwritten rules of the application and interview process as well as look over application materials prior to submission.
The Tamil Academics Society acknowledges that many Tamil Ph.D. students are the first in their family to pursue a graduate research career making it difficult to know which questions to even ask about academia, let alone the “correct” questions to get the appropriate advice. Thus this society provides a space where broad questions about applications, careers, funding, publishing, choosing advisors, authorship etc. can be posed without fear of judgment. Moreover research has shown that minority students are less likely to be encouraged to publish by faculty members in their departments and are less likely to say their professional development was promoted. To mitigate these effects, this society aims to be a source of support for Tamil Ph.D. students and young scholars by also providing an additional space to find mentors. Research also shows that having access to mentors with a similar cultural background or those who have an intimate understanding of the struggles a particular group faces, can greatly affect success. With this support we hope more Tamil Ph.D.s, especially women, will attain faculty positions, in turn motivating other young Tamil students to pursue an academic career.
We anticipate hosting the Graduate Application Mentorship Program every year and thus are looking to grow our group of mentors. If you’re a Ph.D. student or Ph.D. graduate, we invite you to join the Tamil Academics Society at the link below.
Facebook Group: Tamil Academics Society
-Featured image sourced from the Tamil Students Initiative (TSI)