Meenakshi Shukla

Commonwealth Alumnus Meenakshi Shukla joined the Mentoring Programme in 2020-2021 as a Mentor. She was paired with a Commonwealth Scholar from Ghana.

Meenakshi has expertise in the field of psychology and supported her Mentee in developing short and long-term goals both during and post-Scholarship.

Supporting my Mentee during COVID-19 lockdown

This mentorship experience has been really rewarding and mutually fulfilling for me. During my mentorship, my Mentee had to stay alone in the UK because of the COVID-19 lockdown. He shared his challenges with me and I ensured my availability on video call, voice call, WhatsApp, and email communication whenever he needed support or a listening ear. Once he felt more settled, we discussed some academic goals so that he could use his time well. He too has motivated me and uplifted my spirits whenever I feel I am not doing as much as I could in my field.

Cross-country pairing

In the beginning, when I came to know that I had been paired with a Mentee from another country, I was not sure if I could be as helpful as I would have been to someone from the same country as me. But, in due course I found that it was a learning experience. We developed good rapport and learned a lot from one another by discussing the festivals, culture, economy, and politics of our respective countries. We couldn’t have had so much to share if we hailed from the same country and culture.

Post-Scholarship support: exploring opportunities for further studies

My Mentee is a bright and achievement-oriented person. He did well in his master’s and wished to pursue a PhD following this. Upon returning to his home country, we discussed possibilities and explored PhD scholarship opportunities together. I helped him narrow down his choices and offered advice on potential supervisors from an institution I had visited during my Commonwealth Scholarship.

Collaborating to produce research papers in the field of child psychology

During his Scholarship, I supported him in achieving goals such as meeting deadlines for his studies and assignments by periodically following up on his progress. I decided that we could continue working together and learning from one another in the longer term if we pooled our efforts and expertise together. His area of interest concerns child psychology, while I work in emotions, emotional disorders, and hypertension.

We are currently working on 2-3 papers that combine both his and my research interests. We have successfully co-authored a paper presenting a systematic review of interventions for children with learning disabilities and their parents. This paper is under review with a reputed journal. We have also submitted a proposal for a book chapter and are awaiting the editors’ response. We are exploring the early risk factors leading to later development of hypertension among children.

Supporting one another to achieve professional development

Because of working together on research studies and papers, we keep in constant contact to discuss challenges and offer or brainstorm together any solutions. We are growing academically and learning from one another. We inform one another about workshops, seminars, and professional development opportunities that could help us learn new skills. Next, we plan to learn how to write grant proposals and will then try to secure research grants.

All of this would not have been possible if the CSC hadn’t created this Mentorship Programme. I am really grateful to the CSC for this opportunity.

Meenakshi Shukla is a 2016 Commonwealth Split-site Scholar from India. She completed her PhD in Psychology from King’s College London and Banaras Hindu University, India.