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University of Virginia Graduate Mentoring Institute: A Model Program for Graduate Student Success

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 89, No. 3

Tazzarae Spivey-Mooring ,   Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, State of Maryland

Cheryle Burgen Apprey , University of Virginia


This study examines an innovative model program for the mentorship of diverse graduate students entitled the Inter-Ethnic/Interdisciplinary Mentoring Institute for Graduate Education (i.e., Mentoring Institute), which was established by the Graduate Student Diversity Programs in the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia (UVa). The Mentoring Institute was created to promote an inclusive environment for graduate students from diverse backgrounds as well as to provide support for and increase the number of students of color who successfully matriculate and graduate from UVa. A comprehensive program evaluation was conducted that assesses the mentoring experiences of UVa graduate students who participate in the Mentoring Institute. The evaluation data reveals how graduate students’ involvement in the Mentoring Institute has positively impacted their academic and social experiences as well as their feelings of connectedness to UVa's professional community. The evaluation also assesses ongoing activities, professional trainings, workshops, and other support mechanisms provided for graduate students by the Mentoring Institute. In all, graduate students who participated in the Mentoring Institute evaluation indicated that the program has contributed significantly to their academic success, social well being, and feelings of connectedness to the UVa graduate school community. This study should particularly benefit administrators, faculty, students, and higher education professionals who are interested in multicultural graduate student development at predominately White institutions of higher education.


Tazzarae Spivey-Mooring earned a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Counseling Psychology from Lehigh University. Her dissertation was entitled “Cultural Alienation, Mental Health and Attitudes Towards Seeking Psychological Help Among Students of Color at Predominantly White Universities.” Her research interests include help-seeking attitudes, multicultural counseling competence, higher education mentorship, and social justice among students of color. She is currently employed with the State of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Cheryl Burgan Apprey joined the University of Virginia's Office of the Vice President for Research in 2006 as the Director of Graduate Student Diversity Programs. Dr. Apprey holds a doctorate from The Ohio State University. She was a longtime faculty member and administrator at the Miami University in Ohio. She is dedicated to enhancing the academic experiences of graduate students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.