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University of Missouri

Mentoring It Forward

Mentoring undergraduates is a gift that keeps on giving.

Chanell Washington

MU senior Chanell Washington demonstrates a graduate student’s ability to pull information from an array of sources to inform her research, says mentor Nicole Campione-Barr, professor of psychological sciences. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

Chanell Washington finished speaking to the hotel conference room full of undergraduate researchers and faculty members, stepped away from the microphone, and sat down. That’s when she knew.

She could do this.

The psychology major from Chicago had just given a talk about her research on paternal and romantic relationships among female emerging adults at the 2014 McNair Scholars conference, and she felt great. “I got a high after that,” she says.

Washington, now a senior, came to Mizzou wanting to go into psychological therapy, but after joining the research lab of Nicole Campione-Barr, associate professor of psychological sciences, during her sophomore year, she found she loved research.

With therapy, you help individuals,” she says. “But research gets distributed more broadly. I want to make a [bigger] impact.”

Washington is the kind of student Campione-Barr hopes for. Having been a psychology undergraduate at Mizzou herself, Campione-Barr, BA ’99, had been inspired while working in the lab of Charles Borduin, professor of psychological sciences. “I loved the way he incorporated his undergraduates into the lab,” she says. “It opened my eyes to how things would be [when I was] in graduate school.”

She draws on that example in her own lab. “I try to find a way to connect with students on a personal level to find out what they want and then try to find as many ways as I can to help them get there,” says the 2014 recipient of MU’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

For Washington, that mentorship helped take her to a 10-week summer research program at Ohio State University and three invitations to national programs for emerging scholars.

In a humility Campione-Barr says is typical, Washington doesn’t take the credit.

I’ve had a lot of success the past couple years, and I attribute that all to her,” she says. “I want to be to someone what Nicole is to me.”