Mahasin Mujahid Honored with Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award
The UC Berkeley School of Public Health is pleased to announce that Professor Mahasin Mujahid, PhD, MS, FAHA, is the recipient of the UC Berkeley 2021 Carol D. Soc Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award for early-career faculty members.
The award, established in 2007, recognizes UC Berkeley faculty members for their vital role in mentoring graduate students and training future faculty.
Professor Mujahid is a revered mentor in the School of Public Health’s Epidemiology Division. She is widely recognized among students for the bounty of time and energy she devotes to fostering graduate student development, from guiding them through the hoops and rigors of early doctoral training and exams, to cultivating their passions into productive and rewarding dissertations, research agendas, and careers.
As one student put it: “Her investment in the next generation of young scholars, and commitment to advancing the work of racial and social justice runs deep. She gives her energy, time, resources, and voice to many students.”
Professor Mujahid says that “open and honest communication” is central to her teaching and mentoring philosophy. “Students need to feel seen, heard, and valued. Additionally, students need space to be their authentic selves. This requires space for ‘upward mentoring’ (i.e., my students can provide me with feedback and challenge my ideas so that we both learn and grow from each other and reach our highest potential),” she says. “I approach mentorship by beginning conversations with deep listening and an open heart before providing my opinion. I think this empowers students to feel comfortable trusting their gut and listening to their inner voice.”
Relationships with mentors has been key to her own success. “I have had excellent mentors during my career and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” Mujahid says. “They gave me what I needed when I didn’t know that I needed it and they saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself. They invested in me deeply and didn’t just tell me what I wanted to hear but what I needed to hear. And most importantly, they invested time to help me cultivate the skills I needed to be successful. Part of my motivation is to pay it forward and to give the gift of this kind of mentorship to other students.”
What her students find most remarkable is that professor Mujahid delivers this critical support for their professional development with a distinctively empathic and egalitarian ethos, “creating a supportive and hopeful classroom environment,” and “connecting with [students] first as people and then as collaborators.” This, together with her academic guidance, shapes her students both as scholars and as citizens.
Another student explained: “Mahasin’s warm honesty, unwavering faith, and high standards coupled with deep care for her students have been instrumental in shaping not only my work, but also my values and beliefs as a citizen of a society undergoing transformative struggles for justice and equity.”
“I am so grateful” for receiving this award, professor Mujahid says. “It really makes me smile to think of the wonderful students that I get to mentor and the amazing mentors I’ve had. This award is a tribute to them.”