2012 Mentoring Staff Award for Graduate Studies Goes to Roni Lipton
August 22, 2012
Brad Smith and Jim Mortenson
Known throughout her department as the “first person to turn to,” as well as the subject of a departmental joke that “Roni” is the answer to every question, Roni Lipton—associate director of the Graduate Programs in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the McCormack Graduate School—is an essential resource for students and faculty alike. She provides students with outstanding support in areas ranging from course selection and career advice, to emotional support and tips on making it through New England’s harsh winters.
Because of her tireless devotion and the excellent mentoring and student support she provides, Lipton was nominated by her peers in January 2012, and was ultimately chosen as the recipient of, the UMass Boston Mentoring Staff Award for Graduate Studies.
“I was very honored to receive the award,” she says. “It’s certainly nice to receive recognition for what I consider the most important part of my job. I’m especially pleased that this award has been created to recognize the role that staff often play in mentoring students.”
The students in the Conflict Resolution Program come from a wide variety of backgrounds—what the field calls “profession of origin”—and the skills they gain are so versatile that students’ experiences and interests can vary greatly. Lipton’s involvement with initial inquiries into the program, the application process, as well as ongoing support to students as they progress towards their degrees, gives her a unique perspective of the students’ overall situation.
“Sometimes I’m able to get a more complete picture of a student’s background, interests, and goals than a faculty member may get from their interaction in class,” says Lipton. “I think of myself as a conduit, connecting students with people and resources, faculty members, fellow students, research and community projects, internship or volunteer opportunities, that can help them explore their interests.”
Lipton’s role as a mentor in academic matters necessitates recognition on its own, but her peers are quick to note that Lipton goes beyond the traditional role of the mentor to ensure student growth and well being in all aspects of life.
She has invited students to her home to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner when they couldn’t make it home for the holiday, she provided students with a temporary home while apartment hunting, and she stayed with an ill international student in the hospital while his family traveled to the States. These stories highlight Lipton’s compassion, and her genuine desire to provide whatever help she can to see her students excel.
As one recommender put it, “every semester of every year, Roni Lipton moves students’ lives and careers into new directions. She fosters their determination and drive to excel academically, professionally, personally.”
Lipton will continue to support students in her integral role as a mentor in the Conflict Resolution and International Relations Master’s Programs, as well as taking on a whole new challenge with the addition of the new PhD Program in Global Governance and Human Security, which will welcome its inaugural class in the fall of 2012.