I have been asked to write about my mentee experience with my mentor, Dr. Valerie Bentz. Therefore, the following is a presentation of this experience in my transformation toward scholarship, and my aspirations as a researcher in the analysis of ontology.
During the summer of 2013, I read Mindful Inquiry written by Valerie Bentz, Ph.D., and Jeremy Shapiro, Ph.D. In a process of my own reflection, I recall the experience of reading Mindful Inquiry liken to an echo, as though I were backing-up into some sort of awareness of knowledge. I felt a connection, and whether or not I was projecting, the knowledge spoke and I listened. With that experience, I then arrived at the 2013 Fall NSO and after many experiences heard Valerie speak about phenomenology with inquiry using the symbolism of inquiry into a bird’s reality of experience diving to catch a fish in the water. I then met Valerie at lunch, and along with a few others, waited for the chance to speak with her.
My initial experience of Valerie was due to her ability to connect to me, and the time she took to be present by inquiring as to what I was about in relation to my creativity that I presented in conversation. When Valerie shared she had some mentee spots open, I felt enormously fortunate, and asked for one. Over the next 5 years, I would come to understand Valerie’s way of illuminating scholarship within the multiple experiences of life in scaffolding my learning.
As I proceeded over the years with the course structure for the doctorate in Human Development, I joined video calls, telephone calls with other professors, as well as within Valerie’s modules for learning. In attending Winter Sessions and several somatic retreats, I was able to begin experiencing belonging in the cadence of the group differentiated from the compartmentalization and disconnection in the experience of my own lifeworld. I studied vast amounts of information, and produced a depth of writing that transpired to two separate presentations. In addition, I had the privilege to be a student anchor for an NSO through the mentorship of Valerie and connect to others.
Valerie inspired me to see the importance of the phenomenological approach through the knowledge she shared in her own scholarship and teachings. Another quality of Valerie’s mentorship was her ability within the epoche of her mentorship, bracketing her own judgment, while leaving a space for me to determine my own exploration and understanding of my stance to scholarship. Valerie has always been available to me by email, phone conversations, and in meeting face to face.
Valerie invited me to the Society of Phenomenology and Human Science (SPHS) where I presented papers at conferences in 2016 and 2017. On October, 22nd, 2016, I presented “Typifications of Children in Elementary School” and on October, 20th, 2017, I presented “Alfred Schütz Multiple Realities: An Inquiry Into Trauma Experience In High Risk Occupations.” The commentary I received from Doctor Michael Barber and Doctor Carlos Belvedere (both Schützian Scholars) in response to these papers has been instrumental in developing my analytical thinking regarding Alfred Schütz lifeworld ontology. Valerie’s support as a mentor has helped me transform my psychotherapy practice. My specific aim is to discover the meaning of experience and the realities (the natural attitude) opposed to interpretation of those experiences within a dominant clinical context, and in helping others rise above systematic structures, to see the influence of structural oppression, how these systems impact human development, in the sense of the self being in the world. I am honored to have Valerie as my chair as I continue to scaffold my dissertation, A Life World Inquiry of First Responders’ Experience of Trauma While in the Course of Duty.
My experience of Fielding is strongly correlated to my mentor Valerie. Her lifeworld scholarship has influenced the trauma work I accomplish with others in the processes of healing and transformation. I realize this may be funny to say here, but through Valerie’s mentorship, I have come to trust, to feel valued within the Fielding community, supported and loved.
With appreciation and warmth,