Becky Wai-Ling Packard

Professor of Psychology and Education; on leave Fall 2021
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

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.

Courses TaughtEducational Psychology

  • Seminar in Educational Psychology: Motivation
  • Statistics
  • Laboratory in Developmental Psychology
  • First-Year Seminar: 100 Marathons

Recent Campus News

Lydia Cheah ’20 took the Theory of Computation class at Mount Holyoke. She subsequently created videos as an independent study. Initially meant to support Mount Holyoke students, now the videos have thousands of views on YouTube.

Shifting climate in tech

Spurred by the mentoring of Mount Holyoke professors, Lydia Cheah ’20 has found herself leading the way to reshape the computer science career track. 

a collage of photographs of the six students participating in the MHC Semester in DC program

MHC in D.C. program breaks new ground

Mount Holyoke’s first remote Semester in D.C. program also has the first Frances Perkins Scholar, first Posse Scholar and first 21st-Century Scholar.

This is a photo of the awardees standing with Dean of Faculty Jon Western and Acting President Sonya Stephens.

Four faculty members honored with awards

Four Mount Holyoke professors received awards for outstanding teaching and scholarship, a celebration of the hard work and academic success of faculty.

Photo of Veronika Kivenson FP’13 aboard a research vessel

MHC alum finds microbial gold in ocean muck

Alum Veronika Kivenson’s NSF grant allows her to use a supercomputer to examine how microbes metabolize pollutants found in marine sediment.

Mount Holyoke College Library reading room. Photo by Michael Malyszko

New grants to Mount Holyoke and its faculty.

Mount Holyoke College and its professors received several grants and fellowships between November 2015 and March 2016.

Recent Grants

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.

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

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/alumna

Packard, B. W., Leach, M.*, Ruiz, Y.*, Nelson, C.*, & DiCocco, H.* (2012). School-to-work transitions of career and technical education graduates. Career Development Quarterly60(4), 134-144.
* indicates Mount Holyoke College student/alumna

Packard, B. W., Gagnon, J. L.*, & Senas, A.* (2012). Navigating community college transfer in science, technical, engineering, and mathematics fields. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 36(9), 1-14.
* indicates Mount Holyoke College student/alumna