212: Holistic Critical Mentorship: Reexamining How We Mentor with Michael A. Hunt

212: Holistic Critical Mentorship: Reexamining How We Mentor with Michael A. Hunt


I’m excited to share that today’s episode features Michael A. Hunt who comes on the show to discuss the topic of holistic critical mentorship and reexamining how we mentor.

Michael is a native of Baltimore who has served as a university/college administrator, middle & high school math instructor, musical vocalist, and social justice educator, shaping the lives of today’s leaders. Michael’s work, for the past twenty years, focuses on Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) within institutional structures by encouraging radical inclusion through social justice engagement & holistic partnerships. His personal research bridges spirituality and STEM education by providing culturally nuanced resources for increasing self-esteem and promoting holistic critical mentoring. He embraces that “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.”

On the show, we learn about Michael’s framework for holistic critical mentoring. He shares the origins and development of this approach to mentoring, which was informed by his service to the Ronald E. McNair Program. Michael also stresses the importance of considering students’ holistic experiences and needs when mentoring them and the role that building community plays in fostering institutional change. He also offers advice for students and professionals seeking to implement this mentoring framework within their practices, policies, and culture.

You can learn more about Michael and his work by checking out his Linktree: https://linktr.ee/michaelahunt

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Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:02

Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring podcast. This is your host Doctora Yvette. And today we have an episode on holistic critical mentorship. I'm super excited about this topic because I think that I believe in this and have been practicing this without realizing there was a name for it. So we're going to be talking about how to reexamine the way that we mentor. And our special guest is Michael A. Hunt. He is a native of Baltimore has served as a university and college administrator, middle and high school math instructor, musical vocalist and social justice educator shaping the lives of today's leaders. Michael's work for the past 20 years focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion within institutional structures by encouraging radical inclusion through social justice engagement, and holistic partnerships. His personal research bridges, spirituality and STEM education by providing culturally nuanced resources for increasing self esteem, and promoting holistic critical mentoring. He embraces the quote, that if I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain. Welcome to the podcast, Michael.

Michael A. Hunt 1:22

Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me here with you today.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 1:26

Of course, of course, I'm excited to have you here with us. So for folks that may be new to your work, I would love for you to tell us a little bit more about who you are, what you do. I'm familiar with your work because of McNair, but I'm gonna have so many other aspects of your life and the work that you do. So that tell us a little bit about that. And also, whatever you're comfortable sharing about your background, your backstory, how, how you became who you are today.

Michael A. Hunt 1:55

Yeah, I actually like to start there. Because I think, especially as you read the piece in the bio about if I can help somebody, as a passive on to my living shall not be in vain. I am who I am, because of the people who helped me along the way. And so I give honor to the ancestors to those who come before us, to those whose shoulders I stand, because I this work is actually in my work around mentorship is really a testament to the belief that we are not in this alone. And so I grew up in Baltimore, and I always love to come back to that storyline of Baltimore, because I, it reminds me that no matter where you're from, no matter what your circumstances are, when you're surrounded by greatness and goodness, and people will care for you. You can really excel.

And so I grew up in a single mom home. With my mom, really, I will say she girded me around a community. And so she couldn't do it by herself. And she recognized it. And so it was it was community, whether it was the educational system, I was very involved in education in Baltimore, as well as like a church community here in Baltimore. And, and even in my church community, they were very, it was a lower slash middle class, black church community, a large community, it was like, two to five thousand people attended that church over time. And, but they really emphasize education, education, education, education. And it was from that, that I really realized that I love to sing, I love to act, I can do a whole lot of different things. But it's that education that will provide the resources for future generations even before beyond my death or what have you. And so I took a hold of that.

And so I went to UMBC for my undergrad, which is here in Baltimore. So it wasn't going far. But at some point, during my time, I actually I was looking, I was computer engineering. During that time, I was looking at doing computer engineering. And then I really felt a call into my life that I wanted to do more than sit in the lab. And I was in the scholars program and one of my mentors who was the president of our institution, when I made that decision to go into seminary and go to grad school in theology you know, he would he would tell folks, you know, this is the one I lost to God. Right. And so, it was, you know, it was a funny day, but it was the sense of, you know, I had a I've did sort of where my life goal was where my ministry would be.

And so I went to seminary thinking I was gonna be a pastor, thinking that that's where I wanted to go. And I did ministry for some time. But then I was like, even in grad school, have I not? I've already touched folks. And so I really wanted to work with college students, and I really appreciated my journey. And and when I was an undergrad, my journey and finding myself finding my voice, but having people who were again, mentors or supervisors, folks who allowed me to grow and challenge me and help me to think differently. And I was like, man, I want to be that but others, right. That's what I longed for.

And so I got involved in student affairs. I think that so I eventually made my route into Student Affairs into religious life, as well as residential life that spent a few years and after grad school in Atlanta at Emory University. I made my way to two. The cornfields of Iowa. And and yes, it I say it like that, because it was a journey. I spent three years there, and part of my time there. You know, I was really, for the most part, I was the one of two black men working for the campus that were under the age of 40. Right, it was, it was like, when you saw me, you knew I worked for the college. And that, right? Like we weren't just strolling around while I was a student. And so being there, it was, it was great, I learned a lot, I grew a lot. And I was looking to move on. Because they told me that there weren't any space for growth, as far as in the role. And so I started looking elsewhere will come to find out they may space for a white man in my department to be the assistant director. But they say they did it because we were all the rest of us was searching, but elsewhere. And it just makes sense. And I've thought about staying because I'm the route Rosa robber, whatever you call it, I cause trouble. And I was thinking about staying home. What if I say how are you going to justify this. But my mom got ill. And something said, Michael, just get go as your time three years as it is just wipe the sand off your feet, dust off your feet and keep moving.

And so I did that and came back to Baltimore. And during that time, make a long story short, it was back and Baltimore I was able to make some connection, where I realized that I had a heart for young people and youth in college that really was important. And so I ended up in a math teacher in Baltimore City for some time. And then the Upward Bound program is what got me back into TRIO. And so I didn't say I'm actually a TRIO alumn, I'm a McNair alumn as well. So I was a McNair Scholar when I was in undergrad. But then, when I came back to Baltimore I got involved with as a math instructor for Upward Bound. And then eventually, the Assistant Director for McNair ended up leaving and the director then of McNair was like they need she needed some help. And I was already on payroll, oh, no, even before I became a GRE math specialist, and then the director ended up leaving for for another role.

And so that's when I stepped in and began and became the interim director. And it was in that timeframe that I recognized, and as I begin my deep work of now I'm no longer student right now. Oh, and I didn't say that. I'm actually the director. Or the at that time I was the assistant director or Interim Assistant Director of the McNair program that I was once a part of it's full circle, right and so I'm no longer student I'm on campus, having this kind of experience of now I'm on staff, right um, you know, I'm the I'm the administrator. I was always even on campus. I was the one fighting against the administration on the justices in data did not I am yeah. And so I started like figuring trying to figure out what's happening.

And then over the course of time I had I had to hit a wall with my scholars where I would I tell folks, it was a I had a pool who sort of wrote rose up against me in the program. Within my first year of McNair, they wrote a 25 page manifesto against me tempted to the president to be. No, it was it was it was craziness. Yeah, yeah. But one of the blessings and during that process was twofold. One, the director of McNair definitely, again, I'm only the interim slash assistant director. The, when I first came in, I knew as a Black man on a white canvas at UBC is still a predominantly white institution, no matter how many times we applied for HSI or MSI, or whatever we still do, our processes are still white centered. Right. And so I knew as a black man, I needed to protect myself. And so from day one, I kept my boss in the loop of every single decision, everything that I did, etc, the boss boss knew. So when this came about, she was able to handle a lot of it. So it didn't hit me in the same way. And she was able to both defend it and also make make sure our administrators knew that a lot of the things was taken out of context wasn't, wasn't true, or exaggerated in some kind of way. And so having heard support was phenomenal during that time.

But it did cause me over the time to really think about how I am being perceived by the students who I'm seeking to serve. Right? And if I even if one had risen up, what does that say in about you, Michael? What is what is it about yourself what you're doing. And so at the we have a meeting with the president who Dr. Hrabowski was one of my mentors. And I remember, as we were leaving at the end of the meeting and things and you know, the students, it didn't end up the way they wanted, they want to be five universities right now. And it's not happening, what's going to happen. And I went back to his office a little later, after that, we they just to say, thank you for the time. And, you know, and taking, being a leader for us right in this moment. And he said, Michael, was the thing that he said to me that really pushed this whole list of critical mentoring for me, and started my process of developing this, this framework. He said, Michael, if you want to be in, in in higher ed, or you want to continue to, to kind of work, you have to listen. And you have to listen deeply.

And I'll be honest, even when he said it, I wouldn't try to hit because I'm sick of all students, you know, like, I'm like, you I just put me through hell. And you want you took they took me to hell, and you want me to listen, right? Like, oh, what does? What do you say? Are you listening to me, right? But time went by and COVID hit, COVID had come. And I needed to figure out honestly, I was having a change in my research. And I was trying to figure out what do I need to research and what do I what do I want to write about and spend some time doing? And I thought about mentorship? And when and I said that's what I'm doing McNair, that's my life. I can name all as I've started, I can name up a lot of people who have been mentors for me over over the years. And as I started thinking about it, that story of Dr. Hrabowski, this thing of listening, and I just took a few weeks of just listening to for and internally and really thinking about and writing it out and thinking through this work. And what I realized was that my students who are hurting during that time, because now there's a few years later, right? They were hurting, because I was also mentoring in the way that my mentors had mentored me, which I also personally found toxic.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 14:12

Can you say more about that? Right?

Michael A. Hunt 14:14

So I call it the parent syndrome, the parenting syndrome, where we say we're not going to be like our parents when we grow up. But then we have children, and we start having those same kinds of mannerisms. Right? We do the same type of things, right, that our parents that maybe not everything will shift. Right. But this idea of how we parenting is the same way with mentoring right? I thought I was doing right by my students, right? Because I'm protecting them. I'm building them up. I'm giving them the resources. I'm trying to socialize them into this graduate school experience, when in fact, they needed to know that they were loved. Right, they needed to know that I actually cared for them beyond them turning in assignments showing up on time or showing up late, right? They have family drama that they are navigating. And they can't just leave that at the door for them to pick it up when it comes to our space actually when they sit with me that all of that is with them.

But for me at that moment, I that's not how my mentors taught. That's not how we could because they too, we're only taught by what they knew. Right? So I never, I never used it as a way to, like, I don't like that framework where they tried to say, you know, we aren't our ancestors. I don't know if you've heard that saying. And I, it's the sense of like, I honor those folks. Because to some degree, some of what they had the journey was, what they knew what they were protected by, and what they were trying to create. And that doesn't, even though it may not serve us in the same way today, I had to put into remembrance that this is what they knew. Yeah, right. And that that was a hard lesson for me too, because I felt quite a few of my mentors didn't do me, right. I felt like even when I was in grad school and needed the support of my religious leaders, mentors, they weren't, they didn't provide it in the way that I needed it.

Now, if I needed money to finish my schooling, they did that they were on top. And I never wanted financially, in essence, but that spiritual connection, that that personal connection, it wasn't there. And I had another mentor who told me that Michael, they gave you what they could write. And so all of that comes back when I'm sitting there thinking about my mentor, and what happened during that time. And what was the issues there? It was like, Michael, you literally were doing what you are wanting other people not to do to you. Right. And so I had to sit back and really fit in that and started thinking about what this model what what mentoring look like, if it really provided a space for equity for support. What will break down those walls. I just said a whole lot. I talk a lot. And so I'm gonna pause. I know, you probably got some questions. So I hope that was a great at least framework.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 17:19

I could keep listening to you all day. Wow, I had no idea about the context behind how you arrived at this mentoring framework and the level of self awareness it takes to be able to take that accountability of realizing, wow, I'm doing what other people did to me that was taught to me that was not helpful for me, that was toxic for me. And then to, to sit back and and try to think of other ways of doing it without faulting anyone without faulting yourself just saying, you know, it is what it is. But now I'm going to sit and listen and do some research. And yeah, I want to hear you talk about this framework. I want to hear you talk about what is holistic critical mentorship. You Yeah. And how does it different from this these other forms of mentorship? I know you mentioned like, but the way you were mentoring before was different. So maybe you can tell us Yeah, what is holistic critical mentorship? And and yeah, how is it different from even I would say the dominant forms of mentorship that we see in higher education.

Michael A. Hunt 18:35

Yeah. So when we think of that traditional form of mentoring, it is this top down approach, it's typically you know, you have someone a senior seniority person within whatever that is paired with an individual, you know, who's not as senior, and they, you know, the mentee is really the mentor is pouring into the mentee, and assets. And it really becomes this, this model of sharing. But it sometimes becomes one directional unidirectional in the sharing. And sometimes it also becomes the sense of yeah, I think sometimes, because it's one directional, the, if the mentee who is saying what they need, right, as well, where it's not necessarily the mentor isn't saying what they need from the relationship to, right. And so it's like the mentees needs are in essence being met, maybe not the mentors, right. And that's another thing where I think about reciprocity. And so that was an important part of the model as we've been thinking of it.

So the definition, I'll just share with you the definition of holistic critical mentoring is a network of inclusive reciprocal relationships between mentees and mentors, that centers the voices of and values, the whole being of the mentee. Right, ACM, and you'll hear me call it that ACM, is an ongoing process of learning from the mentees and mentors collective lived experiences, while challenging and disrupting white supremacy and racism exhibited within the white normative interpretations of professionalism. Let me first let me just talk about the first part first, which is inclusive, reciprocal relationship, right. And that was important to me that, that it is this give and take, we're having commerce, it's a dance that we're dancing, and neither one of us are leading. And that says, or one is leading on this beat, and the other is leading on the other. Right, and it really is us really connecting, it's about making the connection there.

But then, I think the one or the, the next part of that talks about centering the voices of and valuing the mentees whole being. And so so often, I think mentoring is set, not necessarily to center their voices is really as to tell them what their voice needs to be, right? If the mentor said, if you're gonna be if you want to be this, you have to do this, right? Because this is how we know it works. And that's their experiences. And, you know, we give that to them. But that's not necessarily how work can work for this particular student in this age and time, right. Things have changed in some ways. People have changed, and it's all different. And so really centering the students voice, hearing them, letting them have conversations and and valuing who they are. Right.

And so this is where community cultural wealth for me into the into the conversation, because it's multifaceted, where the student is not just about the numbers, right. But it's about each individual student, what they're actually bringing into it, which is multifaceted. And then the other part of the definition talks about the ongoing process. And you alluded to this, where you talked about the self reflection that I had to do and really thinking and that's what reminds me, I'm always learning. And so even in every mentor relationship, every mentor relationship is different, how I mentor this person is going to be different than how I mentor, that person. And we are always going because we're all changing, we are growing.

And for me, a big part of this, that I think this portion, I connected this aspect to marriage. And having been recently one, I can't say recently anymore, because we're now in our seventh year of marriage. But when I got married, I was going through this stuff, like this was a lot happening. And I was also in my marriage, I was learning about what it means to be married, right? So I now the individual, right, and learning what works for my wife and what doesn't, and we're still doing that dance, right? We're still trying to figure out and she's the different person that she was six years ago. So what I expected her six years ago isn't what I shouldn't be expecting the same right as we're growing and learning. Right. And so I think about that in mentoring relationships as well, that everyone is growing and learning from each other. And everyone's lived experiences. Right? And here's the kicker definition that talks about? Can you still hear me?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 23:45

Yeah, I can hear you. Okay, because it just went off for you is that was that was Yeah, you were saying that? The here's the kicker? And you're gonna go into the definition?

Michael A. Hunt 23:54

Yes. Okay. There we go. And so the second part of that definition is the kicker, which talks about challenging and disrupting white supremacy, and racism within white normative interpretation of professionals. I have an article that we wrote me in a college paper that talked about how we do this and McNair. And it was going to be an article in a book chapter on first generation of college students, the editors, we have worked on it for two years. And the editor then came to us going the final round of edits to say that the publisher or they were wary about our definition, and wanted us to change the definition of politics, mentoring, particularly this ending part because it's connection to challenging white supremacy and racism, right. And that book was published. Like we ended up saying, No, we're not changing it. Y'all can go ahead and you know, print whatever the book is out, what have you. My article is not in it, it's cool? Well, I won't say it's cool, but it is what it is.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 25:06

I was gonna be like, hold up, hold up. So tell me that you published it elsewhere?

Michael A. Hunt 25:11

Well, we're in. So right now actually, part of this is what I'm working on with my dissertation too. I'm trying to put my energy into writing out this stuff around my, like, I'm in my comprehensive exam writing time right now. And so we do have a is sitting on the shelf is going to, it will get published, I'm not stressed over it. And that's why I did the article in Inside Higher Ed, right, that helped to get it out there a little bit more.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 25:41

Yeah. So for folks who are not aware, just FYI, the article you're referring to is titled Be a Gate Opener, Not a Gate Keeper on Inside Higher Ed, we're gonna link it in the show notes so that folks can check it out. So I'm sorry, I interrupted, you keep going?

Michael A. Hunt 25:57

Oh, no, no, that's good. That's good. And that article as sort of a gives you a real life example of why this, this framework matters, right. And it requires us as institutions to rethink how we're doing, and what we're accepting. And so the model actually does that. That's what that's why I think it's important is that even though the when we talk about disrupting, in order to disrupt institutions have to be willing to make change. Right. And one of my professors once said, and reminded us that we have to keep in mind that institutions are made of people. Right? And so we, the people have to be willing to make the change, no matter how hard it is, no matter what it might stick up. And what we do, we have to be willing to do that. And that's what this model does. And then I created some tenets around it, because I was like, I don't want to just to be a definition, I want us to really think about how does this, how can we make this thing work? Right? And having a definition is all great, you can write it in articles, and you can share the definition. And I oh, wow, you know, but really, what's the work around it and your work is actually taking the tenets and putting the tenets into practice? And so do you mind if I share the tenets?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 27:25

Of course. Go ahead. Yeah.

Michael A. Hunt 27:26

Okay. So there are eight tenets to holistic critical mentoring, and I'll just name the eight here. First, we have to acknowledge that race, racism and white supremacy impacts mentees, mentors, programs, and institutions. Right. And that, I think, if I, and as I'm writing and working on my dissertation work around it, I think I might end up making that a foundation of it, and then had the seven tenets afterwards. Because I think that that's the starting place, we can recognize that and see it, not to say you got there are changes that have to be made. But I think for America, at least, it's about recognizing the impact some people and just trying to do that. And so I think that's the very, the most important aspect of this is that, but then once you recognize it, you know, they say like, once you once you, once you see it, you got to you're held to it, right. Yeah. And so that's the thing, right? And that's, I think, honestly, that's why they don't want to see it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 28:33

Because once they know better, they must do better. Right?

Michael A. Hunt 28:37

Exactly, exactly. And so I challenge those to actually see it first. But then the next thing is that holistic critical mentoring, ACM centers, the voices and experiences of the mentee. It supports holistic needs of the mentee. And that could be mental, physical, spiritual, financial, academic career, whatever, a whole bunch of it. The next is requires reciprocity. And we talked about this a little earlier between the mentee and the mentor. And this includes accountability for all parties. And I stopped here to say, you know, one of my pet peeves is when a mentee is charged to be on time and on task, always right show up on time, when you meet with a mentor, you got to show up, have a pen and paper ready to go take the notes, etc. Your that's their time, your you know, valuable time that the mentor is giving you. Right, this is what we tell our students, but the mentee mentor shows up 30 minutes late and it's okay. Right? The mentor has to reschedule with the student three or four times because of their schedule and they haven't prioritized this relationship. Right and it's okay. Right, we accept it. And so that's my example of what reciprocity when we talk about reciprocity. It really is about us all being committed to the relationship.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 30:04

That's assuming the mentor even shows up at all, because there's also this big thing about institutional neglect and mentors who are neglectful, too. So I just, I just needed to, like, add that in because I'm like, that's assuming they show up, but a bunch of them are not showing up.

Michael A. Hunt 30:21

And showing up even I'm thinking of, even for me showing up is responding to emails. Right? Like, that's even the showing up part, right? It's not even just the physical showing up, is being present, being committed into the relationship, and invites the mentees and mentors to collectively bring their culture and lived experience to the mentoring relationship. And so I find this important like when even when don't my staff meetings and doing time, we share my staff know what's going on with me, my students know what's going on with me. If I need a mental health day, they know that he needs a mental health day. They know he sees a therapist, they know you know what things are necessary. They also so as they share, I share we share together and sometimes I have to be the the one to model that. So that they feel that comfortability and knowing. And that also means there has to be a trust built, right there has to be commitment built there.

And so students aren't going to freely share when you are not instituting holistic critical mentoring, and your the way in which you navigate with the students, they're not going to give you themselves, right, they're going to, they're going to put a wall up, because you have not yourself given into it and you haven't even recognized their holistic needs and other aspects of this as well. And then the last three there on challenges the white normative interpretations of professionalism. That's a book in itself, right? Especially when we talking about graduate school and help students show up with a where I've one of the things I'm didn't say to you earlier, I was a pastor at a church in Baltimore for some time. And my last time I was, I left the church because the chair was one of the major reasons I left the church was because the chair that that boy walked out of my sermon, because I was wearing my, my hat, I was wearing a pango hat. And because I was preaching from the pulpit and wearing a hat. I got reprimanded even by our senior pastor and others about about, you know, how I was showing up and engaging.

And again, this was a church for all people. But even still, I couldn't be myself, right, because of what they saw. Right? And that was the sense. And you know, for me, I had to, it's not what I recognize is what they were still holding, even though this was a Black congregation, they were still holding this white centered nature of professionalism. Right, right. And so that's what they wouldn't learn. That's what they were taught this is how they grew up is, again, it's I've learned to not give fault to them. But I am saying, and my truth in this is that these are spaces that we've created, where our own cannot be ourselves. Right. And so that's important, then the next to the last one, create a network of mentor relationships to support the mentee. And remember, earlier, I told you about the mentor I talked to, who reminded me that my pastor leaders when I was in graduate school, that I felt neglected by them. And that the mentor told me well they gave me what they could. And what I realized was, I have never been what's the word, I I've never been without, if that makes sense in the area of mentoring, because people have given me what they could or what they need it.

And even though some mentors might not have shown up in a way that I thought I needed them, they gave what they could, and what if we start to think of this way of of mentoring, right? Where this student where even if you were my mentor, and you knew that, oh, I can do this well, but you need to go to so and so for this, right? How are we connecting to other people and not hoarding this sense of mentoring, as well. Right. And so that one and then the last one is one of my favorites because is it took me some time to break through this impostor syndrome aspect of education, thinking that I don't deserve it or I don't know enough for it. And I'm trying to figure out if I actually can talk about this in an academic space.

Well, when you have mentors who recognize that the mentee is a budding expert within the content area that you create, mentees who can go forth and and really show who they are and believe in and trust what they have. Have inside themselves. And that's the part for me that I think was neglecting was neglected in some of my mentoring relationships. And then there were some who did some who will reach out to me immediately. And I would like, oh, you think you think I'm good at this, you know, you think, really, you know, and they ensure now, I will provide them what they need it, to do it. So those are the tenets of holistic critical mentoring.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 35:29

So this is super duper helpful, I feel like we have a really solid idea of what this framework is, I want to hear about the impact because you just tell us this whole story about this coup with your students, and you coming up with all of this with everything that happened. Now we know what it is. Do you have other stories? You know, tying back to like putting this into practice, where that showcase this impact because I can only imagine I can only imagine but you let us know because I feel like this is huge.

Michael A. Hunt 36:07

I'm gonna even provide, I'll provide you with another link. Okay. And it's, uh, it should be, I should be able to provide it to you, a LinkedIn post.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 36:20

Okay, I'll put these all in the show notes. Yes.

Michael A. Hunt 36:23

And the and I was just talking to you and I really just made this connection yesterday when talking to a colleague. One of my you actually gonna have well, so this is about Antoinette Newsome.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 36:36

I recently interviewed her. Yeah.

Michael A. Hunt 36:41

So we start with Antoinette. Antoinette is no longer with our program, which makes me McNair, she's gone to bigger and greater things. And I'm so happy for both sad and happy because she was a big part of our program for the last three years. And when I was talking to a colleague yesterday about internet, we were at a university picnic type thing. And they the post that I'm about to share with you, they were commended me and said, Michael, what an amazing fend off you did for me. And I wrote this post, it was very personal, heartfelt, but made it you know, will be broadened out so that everyone can see that impact. And that the post really showed me that even in my supervisory role that when you do when you use ACM, even in that you built relationship you built community, we utilize this model, as we supervise, as I supervise her as we supervise student staff, etc, we always came back to this. And it allowed me to see her flourish in such a way that not only is she growing and going to be phenomenal, wherever she like where she is now and where she is to go. But I was also able to post this chapter, in essence, in a way that honored our relationship honored holistic, critical mentoring, honored her on it, the students on the community, right, honored her own spirituality as well. And that, to me, is the picture of seeing it done well. Right. Even on a supervisory level, on a student level.

It works because even yesterday, the same that I was coming from the event, and I see one of my students who is no longer in our program, right? She's not she's not in the program anymore. But she and for her own reason, but she like lit up when she saw me. Right? And she like Dr. Hunt, Dr. Hunt, you know, and right and she was with a colleague and they were talking I was like alright, God loves you. We need to find some time to meet, you know, let's get together. And whether we get together or not knowing that I made that impact on her utilizing these methods of mentoring. I use it like even supporting her like this is what we did. That's a testament. The other testament is and this probably, you got to read more about it in my dissertation. And but I think one of the greatest is the one who led the coup against me. Ended up in my last class in grad school, we were in class together and we ended up reconciling and having meals together and talking through aspects of what what was happening during that time for both of us.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 40:04


Michael A. Hunt 40:06

It is, it is it is. And so when you when you think about it, like it and even that I didn't seek that out, right, he actually initiated that. And so I think part of this is, when you start to put it into action, you recognize that it is work. It is work. And you you, you sometimes wonder what the hell you got yourself into, because it's that much work. Because you recognize that this isn't just pawns or you know, checker pieces of stuff that we move, and this is real life. This is people lives that are impacted, right? And a deadline that I've set for one student. I can't always if you know that there's a student who's having challenges when something you just didn't know, they're not going to meet that deadline. So why are you, why are you upset with them? What are you wanting out from them? What can you get the information from them? Right? And you submit the forms, like, what? Like, really? Right. But it requires work? Yeah, right. It's not easy. And so internet, that's what we used to have a running joke on was like, Michael, why the hell you create this? Like, why? Because now again, what you what you said earlier? You said?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 41:28

Once you know better, you do better.

Michael A. Hunt 41:29

Exactly, exactly. Exactly, exactly. So now that we got this, like we got to use it right, we got to do it. I can't I can't have behind anything else anymore. And so my students have been great supporters of this model, and they've been the one to hold me accountable. Mm. Right. Because that's the part that's important, even in this work, is that that if you're doing this, there's equal accountability. And so our students will I've had them come even said, like, there hasn't been a coup type thing. But they have come to say, hey, this ain't working for the program. This is an issue here, you asked for this, or how you said, and I had one student who pointed to the group that the way in which I responded to them about something was not appropriate, was hurtful. Right. And we had to take a moment. And I had to express my apologies. And I also had to explain what my intent was. Right? But I also know that was a great impact on that. So I didn't want to minimize that. And so we took a moment. And this was in our large group meeting with our scholars.

And so for them to feel that comfortability to do that. Right. And for us to provide that space. I'm the I'm the director, right. I don't have to hoard that leadership title over them. In the beginning. I did. I felt like I did. And that was the other thing that they I made. I made them all call me, Mr. Hunt. I was like, No, don't you don't use my first name you I am Mr. Hunt. But now I'm like, come with someone call me. I know who I am. You know why? You know what, like, what what we got. That's low level stuff. I don't, that doesn't bother me. Right. I want to know what's your goals? What are you trying to accomplish? And how can we get you to accomplish these goals together?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 43:28

That's great. Wow. I you know, I don't even feel like I need to ask you the next question. Because you just went into into it about how, how do you do this work? I'm curious, though, for the folks who have been the mentees, the folks who have not had the most supportive mentors? What advice would you share for them? I might this my listeners, my audience are primarily first and bipoc students, undergrad and grad students. And there's, they're like, desperately seeking this kind of mentorship. What advice would you give to them? Who could benefit from this type of mentorship and kind of hard to find it?

Michael A. Hunt 44:11

Be the mentor you want to be right that you the mentor that you want, you have to be it? That's the first lesson I learned. Right? When all that hell was going on with my students. I was realizing how it was that I was replicating the system. And so each, I would say most of the people you're on on this call are probably in some kind of mentor relationship with the also the mentor right right here might be the premier they might have a professor they might be the teacher. They might be the brother or sister, the aunt, uncle. Right? This doesn't matter this this goes beyond all of those titles. And so if you if you want to begin to model and remember I used the word I had to model, right? And so I begin to model there's no, I literally just wrote this the other day in my car, my comp exam paper was that people are wanting a checklist to do to be as good, holistic, critical mentor, right? I do workshops on this. And folks, you know, they're like, oh, how do I do it? How do I do it. It is self work. Right? You got it, you got to look at your own self. But I can't give you a checklist. Right? You have to do your own self evaluation.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 45:31

Wouldn't it be nice.

Michael A. Hunt 45:33

Yeah. Wouldn't it be nice, right? Yeah. Like, there's no checklist for this. And that's what people are looking for. Right? They're looking for a checklist? And I'm like, no, no, although the way you got to start with yourself, right? Start what what's important to you? What are your values? Right? Um, you you, and then I will say the other thing is, let's, let's say, as you're building that, okay, you did the work, you started it for yourself, you've already implemented it in, you know, your relationships. But what about my mentors? Right? What about the people who I am looking for? Well, once you start, there's another saying I like is that you got to this to you, you got to teach people how to treat you. Right?

And so in relationship, mentor relationships, you might have to start it off with looking at even if model and what are these things are important to you? And how are you sharing that with your mentor, so give example, we intentionally do it with our scholars. We our mentoring, work, our our model of mentoring is centered around this holistic critical mentoring framework. So our students learn about this orientation. They understand it, and they are required to have a conversation with their mentors, about how this model will be implemented in their relationship. Wow. Right. And so we intentionally forced our students. Now you all grad students, you might not have that intentional, but you got these, you see, you got the list.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 47:08

You know what, yeah, you have this list. The holistic critical mentoring framework, PDF that we're gonna put in the notes, so you can actually bring it and take it to their mentors, if they want to implement it in their mentoring.

Michael A. Hunt 47:21

And then and then and then I didn't want to go so deep into each individual, because I think the conversation allows you to do that, what does it mean for us? Right, because I think it will be different for each each relationship, that I want to give you a checklist to say, this is how you take care of the holistic needs of your students. Now that might be different for each person. And I can tell you, the way in which I do a holistic issues for my students have been different. Right, and I can't do it the same for each of them, because they're different people, different personalities, and all right, and so it just just doesn't make sense. However, I'm having this, now they can talk to their mentors, and know that they are expecting their relationship to be from this holistic, critical mentoring framework. So that's how I would do it, I would introduce it to folks, the ideas around it, and say, you know, this is what I'm looking for.

But then also you got to do like I had to learn is that every mentor is not for everything. And so keeping in mind that some mentors, you will only have mentors that will deal with the holistic needs, where others will be the ones who helped you be the expert in your field, and support you in that, that that aspect. And so not everyone will meet all the tenants all the time. Right? The work is and the hard work that I talked about is that like we are, and I remind mentors of this too, in our program, that we're not expecting you to be experts on each of these levels. But your awareness helps you to know when you are on it and when you're not. Right. And I can honestly say there are days when I ain't on it. And so my mentor and then how I like I don't got time to deal with your holistic needs today. But then as a mentor though, I know that I need to build their network, which is another key thing. So I might not be on that one. But I can show them and send them to the people would help them with that other area. Yeah. Right. And so but you have to be aware you have to be self aware you got to be open to knowing you got to be open to being wrong.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 49:38

Right and owning up to it too.

Michael A. Hunt 49:41

And owning up to it. Right exactly.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 49:44

Wow, we actually are going to be getting close to wrapping up but let me know if there's anything else you wanted to share. I feel like you just share so many gems. So I the only thing I have left this is to ask you how folks can reach you, how folks can support you and you and your work, how can they be in touch with you, if they want to hear more, learn more?

Michael A. Hunt 50:08

I'm also I'm going to put this in the chat for you. And you can share this as well, my linktree has all the links to connect with me. And I am active on LinkedIn, I think that's the most active than I am. And so but the linktree actually has the link to every all the holistic, critical mentoring, my research and all there. So I'm definitely open, if people are looking to do trainings on this model, and willing to, to work together on it, I have done that as well. I do individual consulting. I'm blessed to have some clients who are with some, there's different scholar programs and trying to implement this framework in their programs or in institutions. So I'm definitely open. But you know, the most important thing to me is, if you want to reach out, I'm not looking for folks, again, who just trying to check off something because the institution requires this kind of training on diversity training, or, well, you know, whatever, I'm really looking for folks who are looking to impact and really make those necessary changes, and are committed to it. So I'm here.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 51:31

Yeah, this is not something to check off a list, this is something to put into practice for as long as we are in this world together.

Michael A. Hunt 51:41

And the thing we didn't say earlier that I will I will add is that when we were thinking about the different other models of mentoring, a lot of them. Like there's holistic mentoring, there's also critical mentoring, there's like the traditional way, there's other names that people have done with mentoring. I think one of the things that makes this one unique, is that it pushes institutional change. It requires you to really think about what you've what what processes you have in place, that may not be equitable, that may be a hindrance to students, or what have you. And so you can't just, again, you see it, you got to do something about it. And holistic critical mentoring requires that that's that critical part where we're looking at the systems that are continuing the inequity, the inequitable aspects of whatever. And so this is beyond just even mentoring in labs and stuff that I do a lot of work, you know, with research, mentors, whatever, I got shared, I've used this model for for supervising. I encourage folks to use it when when they are working with others in inter office work that is happening on campuses as well.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 53:09

You know, I want to add to that, because sometimes, especially my listeners, since a lot of them are students, they might be thinking, well, I'm not the one who can make change and whatnot. But you know, change occurs at every level change occurs, you know, at the cultural level, it occurs at the policy level. And yeah, maybe you want to arrive at a point where there might be policy change on your campus. But even if there is policy change, if you don't change the culture of the campus, this is not going to happen. So every single one of us and what we do matters, it causes a ripple effect. So I just want to echo everything that you said, because I am 100%. I feel like I'm on that same, what is that like, wavelength.

Michael A. Hunt 53:53

Wavelength. Yeah. And you know what, the other thing too? The reason why I pushed this as well is I am sickened that I still have a job. What do I mean? McNair has been around for 31 years at UMBC. And is still needed. That's sickening.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 54:20

That's true. That's true.

Michael A. Hunt 54:22

And we've had over 300 McNair Scholars 400 come through our program. And still our scholars have going to institutions where there are the only in their departments. That sickens me. Right. Right. And so when students and folks say, Well, I don't have the power to change, at some point, you will, and those 300 folks have gone through the institution where they're now sitting in spaces, but they have not been given the space nor they might even be tired, because I'm not going to blame them for not making the change. Right, because I get it right at some point you're over it right because you've had to do so much to get there. But if we don't recognize that these programs are essential, but also is said that we have to have, right, that should make us think about and what I make my students think about, honestly, is that one day who will be in that, quote unquote, power? Right, you will be the chair of that department, you will be the provost, you will be the president. So what are you going to do? Right?

Are you continuing to perpetuate this white supremacist culture that shows up in different ways? Or are you willing to make the change? Because you've been there? You know, what it's like, you know what's necessary, right? Or are you just going to just go with the flow, because that's what your donors need you to do. This is how you keep your job. This how you keep the people happy. Right? And so at some point, folks gotta rise to make a change. And as you all and I'm speaking to you, all, right, I'm not even talking to you. I'm talking to y'all who's listening. It's going to be up to you all, to be able to say, now we're done with this. What how do I do this metric, we're going to do it this way. This is the way we going to do it. And so you start demanding, that is done differently. And then also, when you get into those spaces, ensuring that is done differently. Right, then we won't, this change, it'll be it'll be for nought.

So you are required, you have a responsibility. Right? You can't just sit on the sidelines and just wait for it to happen. No, you have to take it on began. That's why I say how are you mentoring? Now? How are you implementing this in your own mentoring relationship? And I guarantee you if you're starting to do it, people will see it and they be like, oh, wow, you're like McNair, my UMBC McNair Program has become a world renowned, like, right now beyond this is because of this model. They see what we do. They see how we engage in it. Oh, ya'll do it different here. Your students are engaged differently here. Right. Like our conference that we have in a few weeks. Our scholars are leading the they're creating the conference. I'm sitting back I'm, yeah, I deal with the day to day operations of it. But they're the ones who are will be front and center and they love it. Because again, we build this kind of communal relationship, that that shows them that they matter that they are loved, and that they too have a responsibility to share that even beyond our space in our community.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 57:39

That's beautiful. Well, thank you so much, Michael, for giving us a sermon really. It's been such a pleasure. Such an honor to share space with you.

Michael A. Hunt 58:04

Thank you

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