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Uncovering the impact of trauma, mentorship on college student development

Uncovering the impact of trauma, mentorship on college student development

What do traumatic experiences and great mentors have in common among college student populations?  Both have the potential to inform and shape the development of young adults studying in a higher education institution, according to Tricia Shalka, assistant professor in the Warner School’s higher education program.

In a recent Q&A with The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, the long-time student affairs practitioner turned faculty member shares her experiences working with international students as well as college students who have experienced trauma.

Research confirms trauma is pervasive among college students. Yet, little is known about how trauma that is experienced in early adulthood—when many people are in college—impacts several of the developmental outcomes that are critical during this time of life, according to Shalka, as she describes one strand of her research that delves into the intersection of identity development and trauma in college students.

A second strand of research that Shalka takes a look at is the role mentors have in fostering international students' development, particularly around leadership. “The college student leadership development literature is ever growing, but something I came to realize was that a significant student population was being largely left out of the conversation—international students,” she explains. “Given the fact that international students have been a growing population in U.S. higher education, I felt this was a significant gap that needed to be explored, especially since leadership development is an often-reported desired outcome of U.S. higher education.”

Shalka brings over a decade of experience working in higher education administration that actively informs her work as both a researcher and teacher.  She has previously worked in institutional assessment, residential life, fraternity and sorority life, and development and alumni relations.

“What I am reminded of in the process is something that’s increasingly important to me in my work—there’s room for humanity in the research process,” Shalka concludes about her work.