Vanderbilt Ph.D. Mentors Young Graduate
Franklin and Sappington were matched through a mentoring program co-sponsored by the College’s Center for Career Development and Alumni Relations & Annual Giving; the program, in its third year, pairs students with alumni for professional development, advice and networking.
The geographical distance between them did not deter Franklin from engaging in purposeful conversations with Sappington, an assistant professor in the departments of ophthalmology and visual sciences, pharmacology and neuroscience at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. In fact, their mentoring relationship granted Franklin a gift greater than she could have imagined—a job.
She explains, “Originally, I applied to this program to be paired with an optometrist who could guide me through the process of applying to optometry school; however, I was assigned to a mentor who surpassed all of my expectations. Dr. Sappington was able to provide me invaluable advice on various specialties of optometry, and she offered me a research assistant position in a glaucoma laboratory at Vanderbilt Eye Institute during my gap year between graduation and optometry school.”
Franklin moved to Nashville in August to work alongside Sappington in the lab where the two are conducting research on glaucoma, an ocular disease of particular interest to Franklin. In a position she describes as the “most ideal job” for her, Franklin also has the opportunity to shadow employees in the eye clinic. “I am very grateful for my mentor as well as the alumni mentor program for this wonderful opportunity.”
Sappington has been equally energized by her volunteer experience. She said, “The alumni mentoring program is a wonderful opportunity for alumni to make a significant impact in the lives of current students, while also continuing the tradition of service that is such an integral part of the Washington College culture.”