The educational pathway of engineering education is often fraught with obstacles and challenges. And while students that participate in research labs get through with little difficulty, there can be instances where students come with both academic and personal issues. In this paper, I will discuss my experiences and lessons learned from my years of mentoring undergraduate students as a graduate student. Being in graduate school for over 5 years, I have mentored close to a dozen students, all with different goals and desires not only for their time while working in the lab, but also for their careers. Of all my experiences, I will specifically highlight one of my most recent mentoring experiences, in which I help mentor an international student through a difficult period of both academic and personal turmoil. I will go through the process of navigating this issue and discuss what literature shaped the way I handled this situation. Through academic and professional development, I was able to help my student learn how to manage their time so that they could appropriately prepare themselves for class and complete their assignments on time. As part of their personal development, I talked with them about the issues they saw with their home country and the difficulties of being an international student. Taking these experiences into account, I point to the difficulties I had to navigate in ensuring to maintain a professional identity with the student and help them in ways that did not violate the ethical principles of engineering and teaching. The results of this interaction were that the student made it successfully through the semester and are finishing their program in good standing. The final takeaway from this experience is the use of empathic mentoring, to be the change that one wishes to be in engineering education, and to take extreme ownership of one’s mentoring role to develop and guide their mentees.
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