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Associate Dean Adams honored for outstanding mentoring of minority PhD students

Dr. Thomasenia Adams, Associate Dean

Thomasenia Adams

Thomasenia Adams, science education professor and associate dean for research at UF’s College of Education, has received a statewide honor for outstanding mentoring of minority doctoral students.The award comes from the Florida Education Fund (FEF), a nonprofit organization that develops programs to enhance education for students at all levels across the state.

Adams received the FEF’s 2015 William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award, which honors exceptional faculty mentors from Florida colleges and universities who have empowered students to complete Ph.D. degrees and prepare for successful careers in academia. These students participate in FEF’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program.

The award comes with a $500 stipend.

As a previous McKnight fellow who was financially supported by the program, Adams said she mentors McKnight fellows to give back for the support she received.

“I have a commitment that every student that I mentor must be better than me when they graduate,” Adams said. “If I don’t make them better, then I haven’t done a good enough job.”

Adams is a professor of mathematics education and a senior author of the popular “Go Math” national elementary textbook series. She earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees in curriculum and instruction at UF. As associate dean, she oversees the college’s thriving education research enterprise.

She joined the UF education faculty in 1990 as the college’s first African-American woman tenured full professor.

She said the mentor-mentee relationship relies heavily on mutual trust.

“Nothing else works if they don’t trust my insight and experience,” said Adams, who previously was honored by the Florida Association of Teacher Educators with its Mary L. Collins Teacher Educator of the Year Award.

Several of Adams’ mentees nominated Adams for the award, including UF education doctoral candidate Natalie King.

“She encourages me to excel by setting high expectations for me to accomplish,” King said. “I am truly humbled to know her and to have the opportunity to receive her guidance.”

Adams doesn’t limit her mentoring to UF students. University of South Florida doctoral student Lakesia Dupree paired up with Adams through the McKnight fellowship program, which works to increase the pool of minority Ph.D. candidates to teach at the college and university levels.

“Dr. Adams has played a pivotal role in my success as a graduate student and has inspired me to become more than I ever imagined,” said Dupree, who also nominated Adams for the award.

Adams said every student deserves the opportunity to have a mentor no matter their background. She said she hopes her mentees surpass her accomplishments and skills in the years ahead.

“Mentoring can make the difference between success and failure,” she said. “In the end, I want to look up to my mentees.”

    SOURCE: Thomasenia Adams, UF College of Education; 352-273-4116; tla@coe.ufl.edu
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-373-4449; marinerk@ufl.edu 
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu