Devotional to focus on mentored learning

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    By Sara Richardson

    Students at BYU have a unique opportunity to learn from faculty mentors, as well as other students and members of the community, said the speaker for the Devotional Tuesday April 8, Gary Hooper.

    Hooper, associate academic vice president of Research and Graduate Studies, will focus his talk on mentored learning.

    Hooper said every member of our community must strengthen one another through mentor-like experiences.

    Ryan and Katie Huish, two BYU students who uncovered healing properties in Tongan plants, had first-hand experience with several mentors while conducting their research project.

    “All honors students had to choose a mentor, who was going to be evaluating our work,” Ryan Huish said. “You also have a mentor for each of the small classes you are going to take independently while in the field. You kind of actually get a lot of different mentors.”

    The Huishes made sure to take advantage of the professional expertise mentors provided.

    “As an undergraduate, we are kind of lost,” Ryan Huish said. “We”ve never done any of this stuff before, so it has given us a lot of really good experiences.”

    Rex Cates, one of the Huish”s mentors, said he works with his students both before they begin and after they complete their research projects.

    “I work with them heavily to help them become successful,” he said.

    Mentoring is more than offering career advice, Hooper said. It has a spiritual aspect as well.

    “The community and each of us have chance to share with one another the spiritual sides of our mentoring relationships,” he said. “We have something rare here at this university, where the more we study academic disciplines and gain knowledge with gospel principles, the more devoted we become after graduation.”

    Hooper said while faculty mentors are important, everyone can benefit both from being the mentor, as well as from receiving guidance.

    “It can also be done in a peer-to-peer environment,” he said. “Students can influence one another every bit as much as the faculty. Also, students influence the faculty. It”s a unified community effort.”

    Hooper says students can be a part of the mentor configuration at many levels.

    “One version is the faculty mentor who helps a student learn,” Hooper said. “But students are also the mentor for other students. We all act as mentors now and then; it”s a fluid two-way sort of interaction.”

    Mentoring includes spending a quality amount of time with each other, Hooper said. Students should all be provided with experience and opportunities for growth before leaving BYU.

    “I believe it was Elder Eyring that mentioned how the education board has a goal to get every student mentorship experiences,” said Matthew Maddox of the Office of Research and Creative Activities. “It”s a unique educational experience for students.”

    Hooper graduated from BYU with a bachelor”s degree in botany. He then earned his doctorate at the University of California. He has taught at Michigan State University and Virginia Tech. He is the father of three children and grandfather of five. He teaches an honors science class and one section of the Book of Mormon.

    “It”s on purpose that I teach,” Hooper said. “It”s my choice because I love it so much.”

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