Each year, the Department of Gerontology at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies honors two students for their service to the department. This year’s honorees include PhD students Caitlin Coyle and Chae Man Lee. Both are described as peer mentors to other gerontology students.
Professor Jan Mutchler, Coyle’s faculty advisor and mentor, expounds on the reasons for her selection. “Caitlin Coyle's service to the Gerontology Department has been extensive over her five years as a doctoral student. Caitlin can be relied upon to volunteer for any role, including meeting with visiting speakers or talking with prospective students.”
Yet, Mutchler believes that Coyle’s greatest contributions have been in support of the positive climate among students of the department. “Caitlin helps make UMass Boston’s gerontology program a welcoming and supportive place to work and to learn. She has been a constant and stable presence in the department. By being a friend and mentor to other students in our program, Caitlin helps to secure the reputation of our program as a place where students support one another in their interests and goals, promoting greater success for all.”
Commenting on Chae Man “Jay” Lee’s service contributions, Professor Elizabeth Dugan explains, “Jay is a tremendous contributor to the gerontology community. He serves as a leader and informal mentor to many of the more junior students, especially the international students.”
In her nomination letter, Dugan noted how Lee helped his fellow students prepare for professional research conferences. “Jay has, for the past four years, assisted students with preparing abstracts for our main professional conference–the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). He helps less experienced students create data sets, determine and execute an analytic plan, and report results. Without his research assistance, our department’s high visibility could not be maintained at this important meeting. For the GSA conference, he helps first time attendees to present posters, select sessions to attend, and even organizes social events.”
In addition, during semester breaks, Lee has worked as an assistant to McCormack’s IT administrator–helping with computer upgrades and network updates. “While perhaps not a typical profile for a service award winner, our department values Jay’s many quiet and significant contributions.”
Ira A. Jackson, dean of the McCormack Graduate School, is proud of Coyle and Lee. “Graduate students like Caitlin and Jay make the McCormack Graduate School a great place to be. Although they have their own commitments to their classwork assignments, assistantship duties, and dissertation research, they exemplify the camaraderie that is so important to helping their peers progress and finish in a demanding, high caliber academic environment. Kudos to them both.”
The award includes a prize of $200 for profesional development.
Caitlin Coyle is interested in the relationship between social relationships and well-being in later life. She recently defended her dissertation project, graduating last May. She has accepted a post-doctoral research position at Yale University. Jay Lee is an international student from Korea, studying driving issues among the elderly population and healthy aging. He is expected to graduate in spring 2015.