ofma 2024

Cindi SturtzSreetharan - Outstanding Faculty Mentor awardee spotlights


As we celebrate this year’s Outstanding Faculty Mentors, we would like to showcase the winners’ remarkable work in mentoring. Their stories illustrate the profound impact of mentorship on both the mentor and mentee. These heartwarming testimonials aim to express their gratitude for the difference their mentor has made in their lives. We are fortunate to have such dedicated and caring individuals as mentors in the ASU community!

Cindi SturtzSreetharan - Outstanding Doctoral Mentor

Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Division of Social Sciences, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Cindi SturtzSreetharan received her PhD at the University of California, Davis. She is a professor of anthropology at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Cindi explores how structural regularities of language use reflect and create larger social structuring. Cindi has co-authored The Human Story: An Introduction to Anthropology (2024, Norton Publishers), which provides a student-centered, holistic interpretation of age and fat talk using a citizen sociolinguistic framework.

Cindi C







What does being recognized as an Outstanding Faculty Mentor mean to you?

Last fall, when I received the nomination email, I felt honored, surprised and delighted! I appreciated the chance to focus on and reflect on the mentorship I received as a mentee and the mentorship I engaged in as a mentor. Before joining ASU, I was at a large undergraduate-focused institution in California. Alongside teaching, I worked across many mentoring spaces: first-year advising, major advising and college-level mentoring (for undergraduate students). But, I had never worked with PhD students; it felt very daunting. So, I did what my anthropological training encourages: observe, participate and practice. At ASU, my colleagues (faculty, staff and students) have been amazing role models, mentors and supporters. The only reason I can even have my name in this fantastic Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award is because of the students who are willing to take a chance to work with me. This award is validating my commitment to mentoring practice and praxis. 

What is the value of mentorship?

As the Visa commercials say, “priceless.” The value of mentorship is that it is ongoing action and practice. Mentorship is valuable because it allows me to grow alongside and collaborate with others.

Do you have any advice for a new mentor? 

Mentorship is a co-created relationship that requires nurturing. However, because mentoring is often a power-asymmetric relationship, the burden falls on the person with the power to pay close attention to boundaries. This dynamic requires both quick thinking and patience; the patience is not just with mentees but also with the self. Being a mentor requires practice, constant (and sometimes subtle) recalibration and reorientation to those in community mentorship.

Cindi SturtzSreetharan's nominating mentee: Liam Gleason

What is the value of mentorship? How has it impacted you academically, professionally or personally?

Mentorship is a transformative process, emphasizing empowerment and the nurturing of growth. It equips individuals to face challenges confidently, reinforcing resilience and realizing one's potential. Professor SturtzSreetharan exemplified this through her mentorship, particularly when my dissertation faced challenges. Her innovative solutions and steadfast belief in my abilities helped me understand that obstacles are not barriers but opportunities for growth.

Professor SturtzSreetharan’s approach was tailored and considerate of my unique journey as a transgender, first-generation, veteran, queer student, providing guidance that respected my aspirations. Her commitment to expanding my network and opportunities based on my identity, aspirations and skills further exemplified her consistent support. Professor SturtzSreetharan’s mentorship has profoundly impacted me, encouraging me to influence others' growth and development in hopes of continuing the legacy of mentorship that has been so transformative to my journey.

Why did you nominate your mentor?

My nomination was driven by heartfelt gratitude for her exceptional mentorship. Her commitment to creating a safe and inclusive space has validated and supported my identity and experiences. Her guidance in problem-solving and constant belief in my potential was pivotal during challenging times, providing hope and clear direction.

Professor SturtzSreetharan’s holistic mentorship approach, which prioritizes mental health, work-life balance, and overall well-being, has been crucial to my personal growth and academic achievements. Her advocacy for my rights and dedication to connecting me with relevant opportunities and communities have significantly contributed to my professional development. Her mentorship extends beyond conventional boundaries, fostering a deeply felt sense of community and belonging that has been indispensable to my journey. 


Edited by Marjani DeHoff