“Why I Am a VUceptor” by CFT Assistant Director Kat Baker
Today at the Commons, about a hundred Vanderbilt faculty are participating in training to be VUceptors. Each of these faculty members will partner with a Vanderbilt undergraduate and meet regularly with a small group of Vanderbilt first-years during their orientation experience and into the fall semester as part of Vanderbilt Visions. Visions is designed to help our first-years with the social and academic transitions they make moving from high school to the research university environment here at Vanderbilt.
The CFT has been involved in Vanderbilt Visions in a variety of ways over the last few years, including serving on planning and assessment committees and assisting in the training of faculty and student VUceptors. CFT staff have also served as faculty VUceptors. This summer on the Commons blog, CFT assistant director Kat Baker shared her reasons for being a VUceptor. Here’s what she wrote:
“…there is an aspect of our vocation that is sacred; …our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students”.
bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress
Being a VUceptor gifts me with the privilege of sharing in the growth of Vanderbilt students. I am an educator to foster human development, to grow whole persons. Further, I want to help students become “poets of meaning and purpose,” in the words of Swarthmore College President Rebecca Chopp, to nurture students’ capacities to be both critically-minded and open-hearted. VUcepting is a fun way of working toward that goal. To mentor emerging adults as they negotiate the entry into college life—and learn to balance their own needs with necessary adaptations—is enlivening, re-engaging my own purpose. I gain immediate lessons in how to make a relevant, effective contribution today. My students present new issues, ask different questions than mine, school me in what is needed now, and impress me with the ways they are contributing already. In particular, my Student VUceptor, Gheremey Edwards, served as an exemplar of compassionate, relational leadership and sheer enthusiasm for “living large.” He joins head and heart beautifully as he enacts his goal of becoming a public servant—working with him was an invaluable spur to my growth as an educator, mentor and human.
Assistant Director, Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, Senior Lecturer, Religious Studies