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Mentor Inspires Students to Dream Big


UCR Sociology Professor Inspires Students to Dream Big

Two students mentored by Scott Brooks win prestigious summer fellowship.

(June 6, 2007)

Scott BrooksEnlarge

Scott Brooks

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) - Earning a Ph.D. was a distant dream for UCR sociology majors Alquincia Boston and Yasmeen Welton. Applying for a prestigious summer fellowship in Los Angeles wasn’t even on the radar.

However, Scott Brooks, assistant professor of sociology, encouraged them to dream big.

Both students — the mothers of school-age children — are among 15 undergraduates selected nationally to participate in UCLA’s “LA at Play” ethnographic field research project this summer. The project, which focuses on leisure behavior in public settings, is funded by the National Science Foundation. It is the third consecutive year that students Brooks nominated have been accepted into the program.

Boston and Welton credit Brooks with easing the transition from Riverside Community College to UCR and mentoring them in ways that encourage, challenge and inspire.

Both say they plan to pursue advanced degrees in sociology as a result.

“Professor Brooks pushes you,” Welton said. “I would say, ‘I don’t think I have what it takes.’ He said, ‘You do.’ ”

“He’s constantly saying, ‘Don’t limit yourself,’” Boston said. “He’s taught me to trust my own judgment.”

Brooks said mentoring is important to him. Students recognize his commitment as well. The University Honors Program named him Mentor of the Year in May. Last year graduate students in the Department of Sociology recognized him with a Certificate of Appreciation and Outstanding Mentorship award.

“People are here to help other people,” Brooks said. “The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he wanted to be remembered as a servant to others. I want to be remembered similarly.”

Mentors differ from role models, Brooks said, and he had both.

“Mentors are hands on, but role models are often strangers or just people that we know whom we hope to be like,” he said. His parents and several professors along the way were mentors, he said. As well, historical figures who sacrificed and served others are his role models, such as Jesus, Angela Davis, Ida B. Wells, Muhammad Ali, W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X and King.

Pushing undergraduates to pursue graduate degrees is part of his personal goals. To do this, Brooks hosts two meetings during the year to advise students how to prepare for the GRE and graduate applications and includes research projects in his classes to prepare undergraduates for graduate school.

“I encourage students to expand their options,” he said. “I know that the economy is changing and to be successful in the way that most people hope to be requires an advanced degree. Moreover, the opportunities are out there, particularly for our sharp students of color who work hard to earn high grades.”

It’s not unusual to see students lined up outside Brooks’ office for advice on their academic careers and life issues, Boston and Welton said.

“Professor Brooks plays an important role in the lives of all his students,” Welton said. “He gives his all. He’s a great mentor.”

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The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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