Woods named 2023 Outstanding Mentor in Master's Education by National Communication Association

Oct. 26, 2023

Kansas State University associate professor Heather Woods has been named 2023 Outstanding Mentor in Master’s Education by the National Communication Association (NCA) for her work with graduate students inside and outside the classroom.

“I am thrilled and humbled to have been named the 2023 Outstanding Mentor in Master’s Education. Working with graduate students is among the most meaningful and rewarding parts of my career,” said Woods. “It is a particular joy to support the success of graduate students in the A.Q. Miller School; they are living our land grant mission by leveraging their advanced knowledge and skills to make positive change locally, nationally, and globally.”

Woods served as a director of graduate studies for the communication studies department since 2018. When the department merged with the journalism department last year to form the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication, she became the associate director of graduate programs and research. As part of this role, Woods is the initial advisor for every incoming master’s student in the school and facilitates their connection with permanent major professors in line with their goals and interests.

Woods has served and mentored graduate students by securing funding for graduate student professional development opportunities such as conference travel, coaching them through career and academic transitions, and developing orientation and onboarding processes that support student success.

Woods has also developed workshops and other programming to help graduate students develop a wide range of skills to help them succeed in careers inside and outside of academia, like maintaining work-life balance, prioritizing mental wellness, writing as a community practice, presenting and publishing public-facing scholarship, and developing a professional digital persona. Students she has mentored have gone on to win national awards in research, secure prestigious fellowships at law and doctoral programs across the nation, and lead community change initiatives on issues of national import.

“As a first-gen graduate of K-State, I am particularly interested in supporting students who have been traditionally underrepresented in graduate education,” said Woods.

Woods serves on the university’s Graduate Council and is a member of the Academic Affairs Committee. She is also faculty in the interdisciplinary Leadership Communication doctoral program at K-State. As associate director of graduate programs and research, Woods is leading the A.Q. Miller School to innovate its graduate curriculum to be even more responsive to student needs, faculty expertise, and changing conditions at K-State and beyond.

Learn more about the A.Q. Miller School’s graduate programs.