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2012 Dean’s Award: Victor Ray

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Victor Ray, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, received a B.A. in Urban Studies from Vassar College with honors and an M.A. in Sociology from Duke University. His areas of research and teaching interest include race and ethnicity, stratification, sociological theory, qualitative methods, and social psychology.

"Victor is one of the reasons I felt supported in my decision to attend Duke," says one of the nominations for Victor Ray, continuing with "I asked him difficult questions about what life might be like for a student of color at Duke, and he answered me honestly with care and candor. Since I have been a student in the Sociology Department, Victor has offered support both socially and professionally." Other students also cite Victor's continued support and assistance upon their arrival at Duke and beyond, one saying that "During my first year as a graduate student, Victor shared his past experiences and was generous with advice and support, which helped ease the transition for me." Another student notes that "Victor was one of the few students who offered advice regarding the transition to Duke. He really made the graduate school experience more pleasant. He was very warm and welcoming from the first time we met."

In addition to his sensitivity to the issues surrounding transition to Duke, Victor also extends his support to the practical matters of being a student, as "He is always willing to offer his support and guidance to fellow students and go out of his way to help when he can, be it lending an ear, reviewing a paper, or offering sage advice."  Another student also notes Victor's willingness to offer both encouragement and strategies for fellow students, even organizing "a fellowship writing workshop that provided those of us in the application stages with concrete strategies to create a strong application."

Faculty are also united in their praise of Victor's commitment to his fellow students, one noting that "Since day one, he has been very supportive of his fellow graduate students. I have seen him mentor them in stats, help them with proposals, share his successful FORD and NSF proposals with them, edit papers for fellow foreign students, share information about internal processes in the department, and attend practice job talks." In addition to these concrete actions, Victor is seen as "a real friend to many of his fellow graduate students." Another faculty member goes a step further, expressing that "I can honestly say that over the past forty years of graduate teaching, not one of my graduate students has shown the level of commitment to his student colleagues as Victor. He engages in a collaborative process with them, guiding them to courses, reading their work, encouraging their research interests, challenging their ways of shaping an argument, and then letting go, with an inspired student launched once again."

All nominators agree that Victor behaves as he does "because he is a really nice person who also has a strong vocation as a teacher-mentor," and a person whose " ability to mentor his fellow student is a reflection of his values, passion, and integrity."