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Skidmore College

When your professor knows your name

April 12, 2018

The “faculty-to-student ratio.” You see it all the time. It’s a measuring point for comparing schools and a talking point for college tours, websites, brochures and more. But what does it really stand for? Why does it get so much attention?

The answer: There are personal stories behind the numbers, and for each one, the plot often hinges on mentorship.

In our “Skidmore Mentors” series you’ll read real-life examples at Skidmore of what happens when your professor knows your name, your talents, your aspirations … you.

Patricia Fehling talks to her mentee Kasia Dillon

“A constant source of support and confidence”

Patricia Fehling is a professor of health and human physiological sciences and the acting associate dean for diversity and faculty affairs. Her mentee, junior Kasia Dillon, is following a pre-med path.

The mentor: Professor Fehling

“When Kasia declared a pre-med interest, she gained me as a second advisor in addition to her primary academic advisor. The Health Professions Advisory Committee—or HPAC, as we call it—gives students trying to find a path in the vast health field a second career-specific mentor,” says Fehling.

“When I met Kasia, I immediately knew there was something special about this young woman, that she was going to accomplish big things,” Fehling continues. “My role has been to guide her through her pre-med courses and post-grad decisions. With energy and effort, her aspirations were so clear. Our interactions have been inspiring and inspired—for both of us.” 

The mentee: Kasia Dillon 

“Professor Fehling has been a constant source of support and confidence,” says Dillon. “She’s helped me find internships and craft my resumes and letters. She’s also been my professional network guide, introducing me to five different physicians, each of whom I now consider mentors. I’ll even be interning with one this summer.”

“Skidmore feels like a little family where everyone is looking out for you. The support system and relationships I’ve formed with my professors are incredible” – Kasia Dillon


Tim Harper talks to his mentee Alison Ungaro

“I’m challenged to think critically about my business ideas” 

Tim Harper is an associate professor of management and business. His mentee, senior Alison Ungaro, is majoring in political science with a minor in international affairs and is interested in running her own business. 

The mentor: Tim Harper

“Alison Ungaro took my class ‘Innovation and Structure of American Industry,’ which focuses on several models and theories of innovation. Throughout the semester, she displayed significant interest in applying this framework to the jewelry industry, where she is already a maker and distributor,” says Harper. 

Harper continues, “Through an independent study that Alison is pursuing with me, she’s gaining hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of the many facets of the jewelry industry. Every week, she’s learning more about events, trends and innovations affecting her industry.”

The mentee: Alison Ungaro

“Professor Harper was so full of energy, I couldn’t help but be inspired. I’m excitedly working with him now to analyze the online luxury jewelry market, something I hope to break into after graduation,” says Ungaro. “I’m challenged to think critically about my business ideas and realistically about the market. I’ve learned to see markets, industries, and innovations through multiple lenses.”

One of the hallmarks of a residential liberal arts experience is the opportunity to develop close connections with faculty members, and small classes sizes. But what’s more telling is that this is one of the primary reasons students choose to come here … and one of the most common stories told about why our graduates love Skidmore.

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