NEW ALBANY, Ind. — An email from a familiar name popped up in Dr. Bernie Carducci’s inbox one afternoon last week.
It was from one of the professor of psychology’s former students, Quentin Stubbins, who graduated from Indiana University Southeast in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“I just wanted to keep you updated on my progress,” the email read. “I am in my final year of my Ph.D. program at Andrews University. Currently I am at the University of Cincinnati for my pre-doctoral internship. I am working for the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) here at UC where we serve students with mental health needs. I REALLY appreciate the mentorship and guidance that you have provided me through the years.”
More than a decade earlier, Stubbins, a New Albany native, was sitting in his customary seat in the middle row towards the front of one of Carducci’s psychology classes. Stubbins had been struggling in the class, but he was eager to learn, so he wrote an extra credit research paper that caught his professor’s eye.
That paper sparked a conversation between the two, which eventually steered towards Stubbins’ career aspirations.
“You tell me what it is you want to do, who you want to be, and it’s my job to help you get there,” Carducci told the then-freshman.
Stubbins told Carducci of his interest in spirituality, of his hope to help people through ministry. Carducci told him about psychology, of how Stubbins could combine the important aspects of his life doing work in the field of mental health. It was a conversation that would change the course of the young student’s academic career. In Carducci’s words, it was as if “a lightbulb went off in his head.”
“He provided a different perspective,” Stubbins said. “That talk changed the whole game for me. If it weren’t for psychology, I would have went the theology route. With him in there, that change my whole perspective. He provided me a foundation, and I was able to leap off that foundation and grab what I need.”
Carducci became Stubbins’ mentor through IU Southeast’s Center for Mentoring program, and by the end of the semester, Stubbins was invited on board to be an assistant with Carducci’s shyness research.
“Quentin’s ability to work independently and communicate effectively contributed to him being among the best research assistants I have had during my 34 years of service at IU Southeast,” Carducci wrote of Stubbins.
The pair even collaborated on two research papers together as Stubbins got his feet wet in the field of psychology.
“He really listened to some of my ideas on shyness and really took what I was saying seriously and allowed me to grow as a researcher and future psychologist,” Stubbins said.
After graduating from IU Southeast in 2007, Stubbins went on to obtain his masters of clinical psychology from Washburn University. He’s in his third year as a counseling psychology doctoral student at Andrews University and is set to graduate in the spring.
“It’s been great to have Quentin as a student. It’s been great to have Quentin as a research associate. It’s been great to be his mentor. It’s been great to watch his progress,” Carducci said. “What I look forward to now is to have Quentin as a colleague.”
The relationship between Carducci and Stubbins is one of the many success stories seen by June Huggins, director of IU Southeast’s Center for Mentoring. Through the mentorship program, students and faculty can connect in a way that extends beyond the classroom. Many pairings form a bond that lasts all four years of school and beyond graduation.
Students involved in the Center for Mentorship are more than twice as likely to earn their degree from IU Southeast, according to Huggins.
“Connect, engage, provide a sense of belonging,” she said. “I think those are the crucial things we do here.”
Stubbins said the mentorship program enhanced his college experience. He said the smaller classes and open communication environment at the university paved the way for that initial conversation with his professor.
“It’s important that professors and students make these connections,” he said. “I know if it weren’t doing for what I did and for Dr. Carducci responding the way he did, I would have just went through IU Southeast with my head down and graduating and calling it a day.”
The program welcomed its students and faculty to the new school year with a Mentoring Kick-Off reception on Wednesday. Mentors like Kim Pelle, coordinator of non-traditional student programs at the Adult Student Center, got to know more about her newest mentee, Lidy Hendry, a graphic design major originally from Haiti.
Pelle, who has been part of the mentorship program for 19 years, has five students that she’ll mentor this year. Her interest in the program was inspired by her own mentors while she was a student at IU Southeast.
“Without their support, having been a non-traditional student, I probably would have stumbled and fallen and maybe not have been able to get back up again,” she said. “I was a busy mom with three children and two jobs. They would just rally around me. They were my cheerleaders. I wanted to be that person for someone else.”