For undergraduate students, applying to nationally competitive fellowships is a rigorous process that demands perseverance, hard work and determination. The university mentors who help undergraduates through this process play a fundamental role in providing professional and academic support for student success.
Mirna Becevic, PhD, assistant professor of telemedicine and lead evaluator for the Show-Me ECHO project, received the Ann K. Covington award for excellence in fellowship mentoring.
The MU Fellowships Office introduced the Ann K. Covington award in 2014 as a way to recognize members of the university faculty or staff who have mentored an undergraduate applicant for at least one nationally competitive fellowship. Students who have applied for a fellowship in the past year are able to nominate a mentor for the award.
Rebecca Shyu, a senior studying computer science, was Becevic’s nominator. She is an undergraduate researcher at the Missouri Telehealth Network’s Show-Me ECHO program, where she has worked with Becevic since 2018.
“In the past three years, my research skill set and collaboration efforts have grown exponentially due to Dr. Becevic’s mentorship,” Shyu wrote in her nomination letter. “Her perfect balance of allowing me independence while guiding skillfully forced me to be creative and problem-solve.”
Shyu was one of only 409 students nationwide to receive the Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.
“There are no words to express the excitement and joy when a student receives competitive scholarships or awards for their research, and participating in this process with them is a privilege and responsibility,” Becevic said. “However, I support the student to reach for things that may be out of their reach today. It is of utmost importance to create a safe environment where trying to excel is more important than to always succeed.”
Becevic is an assistant research professor for the Department of Dermatology in the School of Medicine. She has worked with MTN in several capacities since 2007 and took on a primarily research-focused role in 2014. She describes her mentorship philosophy as “based on investing in the individual, respecting and encouraging diversity of thought, and always ensuring scientific rigor.”
“Medical research and teaching are truly my passion, and I am thankful to work alongside the most amazing faculty and staff at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, who encourage and nurture mentoring of undergraduate students,” Becevic said.
This story originally appeared in Show-Me ECHO News