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Celebrating Excellence in Mentorship: Eleanor Main Awards

Laney Graduate School Dean Lisa Tedesco (center) presented this year's Eleanor Main Graduate Mentor Awards to 2019 PhD graduate Jillian Lauer (left) and theology professor David Pacini. 

Since 2015, the Eleanor Main Award demonstrated an acknowledgement of mentorship excellence at the Laney Graduate School. This year’s 2019 Eleanor Main Awards recipients, professor David Pacini and Jillian Lauer, ‘19G continue that legacy by demonstrating outstanding support and influence in education and career development. Both Pacini and Lauer credit mentorship as a defining role in their lives--thus, influencing their own strategies for effectiveness.

Starting her graduate journey in 2013, PhD candidate Jillian Lauer fosters a supportive environment for undergraduate students focused on the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Under her mentorship, more than ten undergraduate students received the opportunity to expand their knowledge of intensive research by securing placement in sought-after post-baccalaureate programs and other graduate work. In addition to aligning her students with valuable opportunities, her mentorship was instrumental in guiding students in effective ways to garner financial support through university and national-level grants and scholarship. Lauer’s contributions span throughout the community as she also served as the primary research mentor for students at Spelman College and Agnes Scott College.

As a professor for 38 years, Dr. David Pacini credits his style of mentorship to those who advised him as both a student and a professor. His unique approach, leading with care, is a proven method most valued by his mentees.

According to his students, Pacini exhibits the utmost regard for the mental and physical wellbeing of those under his advisement. Aside from the emotional and mental support, however, Pacini maintains his transparency with students regarding the ever-changing landscape of the workforce beyond earning their degrees. He encourages his students to remain open to their potential career choices; and provides them with immersive training experiences. Through his guidance, his students are equipped with the critical skills that will shape and advance their careers.

“Each year, we solicit so many inspiring stories about the work of our faculty and our students,” says Lisa A. Tedesco, dean of the Laney Graduate School. “This year’s recipients continue that tradition of transformative leadership and serve as fitting tributes to the award’s namesake, Dr. Eleanor Main.

As the Laney Graduate School commemorates their centennial year, Tedesco believe that the 2019 award recipients emulate the school’s centennial theme, “It Starts with One”. 

“David and Jillian’s influence on others demonstrates how vital mentorship is to the graduate experience,” explains Tedesco. “As they shape the trajectory of so many graduate students, they also contribute to the next generation of successful leaders across various fields of study.”

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