Professor Laura Prieto Receives 2021 Alden Poole Faculty Mentor Award
Mentorship exceeds the bounds of the classroom; it's about helping another person map the right path for themselves, and encouraging them to dare to follow that path. We all need mentors, when we hit the swampy ground and when we have victories we want to share.
— Professor Laura Prieto
Laura Prieto, Professor and Alumni Chair in Public Humanities in the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities, is the 2021 recipient of the Alden Poole Faculty Mentor Award. This award recognizes a faculty member in the College who has had a profound impact on the life, career, or direction of students at Simmons University.
“It's truly gratifying to hear my former students and colleagues say that I fill that role, that I'm paying it forward, that I make a difference in their lives and work many years after graduation day," says Prieto. “Luckily, for my whole career at Simmons, I've been surrounded by other faculty who care just as deeply about teaching, mentoring, and supporting their students. An ethos of mentorship is the default here. So I continue to have a multitude of models — of mentors in mentorship — to work alongside every day.”
The award is named in honor of Professor Alden Poole for his work in the Department of Communications (1955-1986) helping students achieve their potentials. Among these notable students was the late Gwen Ifill ’77, ’93HD.
"Mentoring is the heart of the Simmons experience," said Dean Brian Norman. "The Poole Award is one of my favorite moments of the year because we get to see faculty reflected through the eyes of our students and alumnae/i as we lift up one colleague who exemplifies what we all care about."
Prieto was the first in her family to graduate from college, let alone earn a PhD. As the daughter of immigrants, her family believed that education was vital for a successful career, but they were unfamiliar with navigating higher education. From her own experience, Prieto knows the importance and value a mentor can bring.
“I love to welcome my students as colleagues,” says Prieto, “and my stake in their future doesn't end when I'm no longer their professor. Mentorship exceeds the bounds of the classroom; it's about helping another person map the right path for themselves, and encouraging them to dare to follow that path. We all need mentors, when we hit the swampy ground and when we have victories we want to share.”
Gabrielle Womack ‘17MS, ‘17MA nominated Prieto for the award. In her nomination, Womack illustrated how Prieto stepped in as the second reader for Womack’s graduate school thesis. Even though Prieto had an incredibly full workload, when Womack could not find a second reader, Prieto graciously took on the responsibility — and Womack is still incredibly grateful.
"She went above and beyond,” said Womack. “Although I graduated in 2017, I can still reach out to Professor Prieto when I am unsure about how to move forward in my research projects. She has been extremely helpful and motivating.”
Alumnae/i may nominate any current Ifill College faculty member for the Alden Poole Faculty Mentor Award, which includes a $500 honorarium.