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MIT mentors, going viral: REFS poster contest

Wednesday, March 24, is the last day to cast your vote.
Wednesday, March 24 is the last day to vote in the REFS Poster Contest.
Wednesday, March 24 is the last day to vote in the REFS Poster Contest.

Getting into MIT’s graduate programs — and then succeeding — is hard. Responsible for much of the research and teaching at the Institute, graduate students are integral to the fabric of MIT, “but we can’t do it alone,” explains Brian Walker, a fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, “we are all here because someone helped us out.”

Walker is a member of the Resources for Easing Friction and Stress Program (REFS), a graduate student run, peer support program that is organizing a poster contest to highlight the importance of mentorship in research. REFS wants to remind MIT that, as the saying goes, "no man is an island."

“As REFS, most of the problems we see are a result of weak mentorship, and we want to address that,” Walker said, adding that he believes students need more than one mentor. In fact, many people are mentors — faculty, senior research scientists, staff and other graduate students — even if they don’t see themselves in this role.

Through the poster competition, the REFS hope to get the community thinking about the important yet often overlooked role of mentors and the value of a strong mentoring relationship.

Who are your mentors? What does having a mentor mean to you? Do you wish you had stronger mentors? The REFS want feedback from the entire MIT community. Visit the contest web site and vote for your favorite poster in three categories: the best graphics, the best mentoring message, and the best potential to go viral. The winner in each category will receive $400. Voting ends Wednesday, March 24. Everyone who votes will automatically be entered into a random drawing for $20 TechCash.

Visit to cast your vote now.

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