Kennesaw State professor earns national mentoring award

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jan 23, 2023

In recognition of her commitment to her students and colleagues, Kennesaw State University associate professor Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez received the national 2022 Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in the Social Sciences Award.

Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez
Darlene Xiomara Rodriguez

The Council on Undergraduate Research, the leading organization that champions high-quality mentored undergraduate research and scholarship, presents the award. Rodriguez said she takes pride in helping her undergraduate students flourish in research that they are passionate about and in guiding them into successful and fulfilling professional lives.

“I’m humbled and honored that things that people might never see - like opening my home and my heart to my students and seeing them become my colleagues - are being recognized at this level,” Rodriguez said. “I am especially grateful to Dr. Amy Buddie and the entire Office of Undergraduate Research team for their investment in me so I can equip a new generation of applied scholars.”

Rodriguez said she prides herself on close relationships with students, past and present, making sure to be approachable, making extra time for their academic and professional questions and even hosting group meals. The professor of social work and human services said she goes above and beyond for them because she remembers how difficult it was to navigate the U.S. education system on her own as a minority, immigrant and first-generation college student.

Buddie, who directs the Office of Undergraduate Research, called Rodriguez a relentlessly positive and upbeat champion for her students. 

“Any time I’ve seen her interacting with her students, she’s encouraging them and guiding them in sharpening their research and in working toward the careers that they want,” Buddie said. “The students get a great experience when they work with her. And for her to have won this award is a testament to her ability to mentor her students.”

Taylor Lane, a Fall 2022 graduate with a degree in human services from the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services, said Rodriguez’s mentoring was instrumental in her academic and professional success. Lane said she knows she can continue to rely on her former professor as a source of ongoing support in her career.

“Dr. Rodriguez takes the time to understand different perspectives and is intentional with making sure that I have the knowledge and skills to also help others,” Lane said. “She is encouraging and motivational. Her dedication to her work and students is an inspiration of what it is to be a mentor.”

Rodriguez credits the many high school, dual-enrollment and undergraduate students she mentors with making her as successful as she is in her mentoring role.

“This recognition is a credit to our students' commitment to do excellent research with relevance and KSU's willingness to support these endeavors,” she said.

– By Thomas Hartwell

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit