Becky Wai-Ling Packard


  • Mary E. Woolley Professor of Psychology and Education
Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Mary E. Woolley Professor of Psychology and Education

Becky Wai-Ling Packard is a Professor of Psychology and Education. She previously served as the Associate Dean of Faculty, the founding director of the Teaching and Learning Initiative, and the Director of the Weissman Center for Leadership. In those roles she oversaw faculty mentoring, an array of curricular/co-curricular programs, and a number of new initiatives.

Packard is interested in the intersection of motivation, identity, and mentoring. She aims, she says, "to understand how young people without easily identifiable role models and mentors in career domains manage to find the mentoring they need and sustain their desired possible selves, or who they hope to become in the future."

Packard's research focuses on mentoring, with an emphasis on how individuals such as first-generation college students, women, and persons of color construct mentoring networks as they navigate complex pathways toward higher education and work. She frequently speaks on these topics at the local, state, and national level. She also offers expert advice on ways to design mentoring and advising initiatives for students and faculty.

Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation's CAREER, Gender in Science and Engineering, and Division of Undergraduate Education programs. In June 2005, she went to the White House to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon early career scientists. She is currently a co-principal investigator on a Google-funded initiative where she is contributing to the peer mentoring design within computer science.

Community-based learning partnerships are an important part of Packard's work, based on years of collaborations with schools and organizations in Holyoke and Springfield. She received the Volunteer of the Year Award from Girls Inc., Holyoke.

As a first-generation college graduate herself, Packard is especially appreciative of how the numerous contexts of home, school, community, and work need to come together to support the educational progress of students.

Areas of Expertise

Mentoring; diversity; persistence of first-generation college students, students of color, and women, particularly in science and technology; career and identity development in adolescence and adulthood; community-based partnerships; community college transfer pathways into higher education and workforce


  • Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • B.A., University of Michigan


Recent Campus News

Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Mary E. Woolley professor of psychology and education, has been recognized as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Mary E. Woolley professor of psychology and education at Mount Holyoke College, spoke to WalletHub about sticking to a resolution in the new year.

Three Mount Holyoke professors spoke at Final Lecture, giving talks that ranged from aspirational to deeply personal.

Recent Grants

Becky Wai-Ling Packard received a subaward from the National Science Foundation (NSF) via Michigan State University for Assessing Institutional Assets, Vulnerabilities, and Synergies using a STEM Mentoring Ecosystem Framework: A Multi-Institutional, Interdisciplinary Workshop. The grant runs for 15.5 months.

Audrey St. John, Heather Pon-Barry and Becky Wai-Ling Packard received a Microsoft Corporation grant for the project "Development of Core Modules as Curricular Assets for Tech Mentorship Initiative." The project is for 2.5 months. Combined award to Audrey St. John (Computer Science), Heather Pon-Barry (Computer Science) and Becky Packard (Psychology and Education).

Recent Publications

Pon-Barry, H., St. John, A., Packard, B. W., &  Stephenson, C. (2017). Addressing the CS capacity challenge by improving undergraduate peer mentoring. ACM Inroads, 8(3), 43–47.

Pon-Barry, H., Packard, B. W., & St. John, A. (2017). Expanding capacity and promoting inclusion in introductory computer science: A focus on near-peer mentor preparation and code review. Computer Science Education, 27(1), 54–77.

Heather Pon-Barry, Audrey St. John, Becky Packard, Barbara Rotundo. Megas and Gigas Educate (MaGE): A Curricular Peer Mentoring Program. Poster in Proc. of 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computing Science Education (SIGCSE 2016), Memphis, TN, 2016.

Packard, B. W., Marciano, V., Payne, J.M., Bledzki, L. A., Woodard, C.T. (2014). Negotiating Peer Mentoring Roles in Undergraduate Research Lab Settings. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning. doi: 10.1080/13611267.2014.983327

Packard, B.W., Tuladhar, C.* & Lee, J.* (2013). Advising in the classroom; How community college STEM faculty support transfer-bound students.  Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(4), 54-60.
* indicates Mount Holyoke College student/alum

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