UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beth King, associate teaching professor and assistant program manager of the online geospatial education program received the 2021 Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award from the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS).
“It was a pleasant surprise,” King said. “And I am thankful to my colleagues who nominated me.”
Diana Sinton, the executive director of the UCGIS, said King received the award due to her mastery at building rapport.
“Beth King was a clear choice for the award’s review committee this year, as there was overwhelming evidence from current and former students in the program, along with multiple peers, that Beth’s support throughout their program experience was a huge factor in their success,” Sinton said.
UCGIS honored King and other award recipients during its symposium in June 2021.
When thinking about mentors who have influenced her, King said she is lucky to have generous colleagues, and that she learns something from everyone she works with.
“Justine Blanford is always lifting people up,” King said. “She invites collaborators on projects and is interested in helping others succeed. Fritz Kessler is a calming presence and is very invested in everything he does. David DiBiase hired me back in 1999. His creativity and vision are inspiring, and I wouldn't be where I am today without his foresight.”
King said those colleagues and others showed her that taking some time to listen or offering an encouraging word can make all the difference for a student succeeding or not.
“I really try to take the time to connect with each of our students,” King said.
Mentoring in a virtual environment has its challenges and rewards with students who are self-motivated adult working professionals.
“It is challenging to connect with everyone at the level I would like,” King said. “But the fact that we are virtual makes it easier to reach out to them more often. I always tell them that I will check in with them periodically to make sure things are going well since it isn't easy for them to come and knock on my door like a resident student would be able to do.”
The Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award was established by UCGIS in 2015 to recognize an individual who demonstrates exceptional mentoring abilities and practices. Professor Carolyn Merry embodied the spirit of a mentor by sharing her wisdom and experience with colleagues, particularly junior scholars, as a scientist, educator and academic leader. Professor emerita of civil, environmental and geodetic engineering at Ohio State University, and former president of UCGIS, Merry was known for her scholarship and leadership in remote sensing and geographic information science. The goal of the Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award is to recognize the commitment she demonstrated to mentoring and the investment of others who share this philosophy.
“I never met Carolyn Merry, but she was an amazing person. Many people mentioned her positivity and sincerity. She did a lot for other people, whether it was mentoring, establishing a scholarship fund, or advocating for students and peers,” King said. “I hope to live up to her example.”