2009 Sarlo Award
Great mentors, as attested by their former students: Marianne Constable (left) and Amani Nuru-Jeter, winners of the 2009 Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Awards. Photo: Peg Skorpinski

For the last three years, there’s been a new way to honor faculty mentors at Berkeley. Called the Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award, it honors faculty for all the ways they help graduate students — not only in research, not only in teaching, but across the board.

It’s made possible by the Sarlo Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. The Foundation was created by George Sarlo, a venture capitalist who believes deeply in education, which helped him succeed in business and in life. The Graduate Division was pleased to learn recently that the Sarlo Foundation has renewed funding for these sought-after mentoring awards for another three years.

Those mentored by the winners leave no doubt about their appreciation. One of the two 2009 Sarlo Award recipients was Amani Nuru-Jeter, an assistant professor in public health. Of the numerous students who supported her nomination, a former doctoral student wrote, “A session with Dr. Nuru-Jeter was one of the defining moments of my graduate career, for I was finally pushed far beyond my comfort zones with gentle guidance and clear expectations.”

The other recipient, rhetoric professor Marianne Constable, was praised by, among many others, a former student who is now a professor as well as a dean at another UC, who said, near his conclusion: “Professor Constable still inspires me. I keep a comfy chair in my office for my students. I schedule extra office hours for anyone who asks. I read all student papers very closely. And I try to say constructive things, even though many of their first drafts suck. And when I run into a student at a local cafe, and he or she seems awkward or shy, I’ll buy coffee, and maybe a cookie, too, because one must try to go beyond one’s teacher in some small way. I keep in touch with many of my former students, something that has become a source of great pleasure. I think Marianne Constable would be pleased to know all this — how my own life has been shaped by her fine example.”