MSI Fellowship Week: Andrea Guajardo on the Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Faculty Fellowship Program Experience as a Non-Faculty Participant

I am Andrea Guajardo, MPH and I am the Director of Community Health at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System in San Antonio, Texas. I am also a doctoral student seeking the PhD in Education at the University of the Incarnate Word, and I enjoyed the distinct honor of being selected to participate in the Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Faculty Fellowship Program in 2013-2014.

My acceptance to the MSI Faculty Fellowship Program came as a surprise because I am not a faculty member of an institution that possesses this designation. I am not a faculty member of any institution. Despite the fact that I did not fit the typical mold of previous MSIs, I applied for the fellowship based on my experience in evaluation within the context of hospital operations, grant administration, and community-based programming.   My year as an MSI produced personal growth as an evaluator, and it also allowed me to share my perspective with my fellow MSIs – all of whom are accomplished evaluators and faculty from around the United States and Puerto Rico.

Interaction within our cohort often led to discussions of evaluation theory, models, and applications that I had not considered as a hospital-based evaluator. In return, I offered my pragmatic, “real-world” approach to evaluation. My year as an MSI has facilitated a rapid development of a skill set as an internal evaluator that I could not have acquired from workshops and textbooks and enabled me to share a more robust understanding of evaluation among my clinical colleagues in the hospital.

AEA is a dynamic organization comprised of evaluators from multiple disciplines, philosophies, and theoretical perspectives. It is also home to evaluators whose backgrounds are not rooted in academia and theory. My year in the MSI program allowed me to experience evaluation from multiple viewpoints and to clearly identify my own perspective and path as an evaluator in hospital operations and in academia.

Lessons Learned: Don’t label yourself. Seek opportunities for growth in evaluation even if you do not necessarily fit into a defined category as an evaluator.   Don’t pass up an opportunity at AEA because you don’t “fit the mold.” Take a chance and you might find that others can learn as much from you as you learn from them.

Lesson Learned: Seek out colleagues from different disciplines and perspectives. Although the MSI program is a formal process, you don’t have to be an MSI to engage evaluators whose experiences, backgrounds, and skill sets differ from yours. Shared knowledge benefits then entire AEA community.

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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