Currin continued, “Because inquiry is far more than the subject of Nancy’s scholarship, she deeply understands how education is a process of deconstructing and reconstructing our identities, which are constantly and curiously in flux. Not only does she empathize with advisees who grapple with the big, existential questions of who they are and what they want to do, Nancy also respects her students enough to make them aware of her own occasional struggles, modeling a powerful vulnerability and conveying her enduring optimism and perseverance.”
Throughout the course of her career, Dana has graduated 31 doctoral students serving as a mentor to both Ph.D. students who are preparing to become researchers in institutions of higher education, and Ed.D. students who are cultivating their leadership skills to impact change in their current educational contexts.
“One of the things I’m proud of is over the course of my career I have had four students win outstanding dissertation award recognitions from various professional organizations,” she said.
Dana shared she strives to establish a relationship with her mentees long before the start of their dissertations and introduce them to experiences that will help them develop as researchers and prepare for the professoriate.
“All teaching and mentoring – the foundational component is relationships,” she said.
James Rigney, a current doctoral student and advisee of Dana, nominated Dana for the award because she is a steadfast advocate for her advisees, and particularly as a first-generation college student, her mentorship has made a significant impact.
“She is a hard-working advisor, and she not only helps me with writing and providing opportunities to publish and present, but she is dedicated to introducing me and her other advisees into the social world of academia,” he said. “For those of us for whom this world is brand new, this mentoring is invaluable.”
Dana shared she feels honored not only to receive the doctoral mentoring award, but to also have the opportunity to work with and meet individuals who are making a real difference through their work.
“It’s an honor to receive the award,” she said, “but more importantly, I am honored to work with so many people that have creative vision and deep passion for research that makes a difference.”