Becky Wai-Ling Packard

Director of the Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership; Professor of Psychology and Education
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 and is the Director of the Weissman Center for Leadership. At the Weissman Center, she oversees all initiatives, and she is responsible for Teaching and Learning Initiatives and new faculty mentoring.

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.

News Links

Courses Taught

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


I am interested in mentoring and persistence, with a focus on women, people of color, and first-generation college students in science and technical fields. My research focuses on the transition from high school to postsecondary education and work, and how mentoring relationships and an institution’s mentoring or advising infrastructure can support student or employee success. Community-based partnerships are central to my teaching, and I enjoy thinking about how to motivate ourselves and others.

Recent Publications

 (* indicates Mount Holyoke College student/alumna)

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.

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.

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.

Packard, B. W., Babineau, M. E.*, Machado, H. M.* (2012). Becoming job-ready: Collaborative future plans of Latina adolescent girls and their mothers in a low-income urban community. Journal of Adolescent Research, 27(1), 110-131.

Packard, B. W., Gagnon, J. L.*, LaBelle, O.*, Jeffers, K.*, & Lynn, E.* (2011). Women’s experiences in the STEM community college transfer pathway. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 17(2), 129–147.

Packard, B. W., Gagnon, J. L.*, & Moring-Parris, R.* (2010). Investing in the academic science preparation of CTE students: Challenges and possibilities. Career and Technical Education Research, 35(3), 137-156.

Packard, B. W., Kim, G. J.*, Sicley, M.*, & Piontkowski, S.* (2009). Composition matters: Multi-context informal mentoring networks for low-income urban adolescent girls pursuing healthcare careers.Mentoring & Tutoring, 17(2), 187 - 200.