Posted on Apr 30, 2010

Finding Meaning in Mentorship

Finding Meaning in Mentorship


While Crystal Chapman Lambert will tell you much of her inspiration comes from mentors, it is easy to see that Crystal is a mentor herself. As vice president of the Doctoral Nursing Student Organization, she serves as a resource for other nursing students, providing guidance and openly sharing her reasons for becoming a nurse, a nurse practitioner, and ultimately for pursuing a PhD in nursing.

The first encounter with her future career came in high school from a magnet program allowing her to shadow healthcare professionals and visit nursing schools. It was through this program that Crystal first became passionate about the role of a nurse practitioner and found her initial inspiration for becoming a nurse. While at USF, she also discovered the BS-PhD program, which allows students to pursue a master’s concentration while earning a PhD.

“If you don’t see people that look like you, it doesn’t even cross your mind as a possibility.”

Seeing others, like Dr. Rasheeta Chandler, Dr. Versie Johnson-Mallard and Dr. Sabrina Robinson, made pursuing the PhD a reality for Crystal. “If you don’t see people that look like you [pursuing the PhD], it doesn’t even cross your mind as a possibility,” said Crystal. “Seeing others like you striving for the highest level of education broadens your horizons about what you can do.”

It was through encounters with nursing role models that she learned about the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship. The fellowship, designed to address the underrepresentation of African-American and Hispanic faculty, provides tuition, fees and stipend to students pursuing a PhD.

For Crystal, the benefits of being a McKnight Doctoral Fellow go far beyond funding. “Professors and mentors from the McKnight program will go out of their way to help you. Whether it means talking on the phone, over email, etc. they will find someone or some way to help.” In addition, the program connects peer fellows who share successes, tips and advice for matriculating through the program. “Everyone is trying to get to the same place you are,” says Crystal. “It is really a valuable network and a very positive program.

Story by Marcia Parker
Photo by Luis Battistini
Originally published in the Fall 2009 Nursing Life magazine