Putting People on Their Purpose is My Purpose of Mentoring


Dr. Kakali Bhattacharya

Qualitative Researcher | Justice-oriented | Storyteller | Author

I am a multiple-award winning scholar, storyteller, and justice-oriented qualitative researcher. I thrive best when I can put people on their purpose-driven empowered paths and research agendas.

I relate well to people who feel lonely or isolated in their academic journeys as I have felt that many times. I learned how to build a nurturing community around me and clarify my voice and vision for my academic path. Now I teach what I have learned to other like-minded faculty, researchers, and graduate students. Graduates from my mentoring program find that their skill enhancement in an area of research is empowered by owning their gifts and insights and neutralizing detrimental narratives that they have internalized.

In my academic journey, I learned how critical it is to listen to our deep inner calling and align our work to that calling. Without listening to that calling, I was fragmenting myself, blocking my work from emerging from a place of wholeness and diminished my own talent by minimizing myself. I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. I had to figure out a sustainable way to call back these fragmented parts and integrate them in my work in academia and everything else. I realized that if I am not functioning from a place of fullness, utilizing my unique gifts and talents, then those who can benefit from my work are not being served, and I am also missing out on deep fulfillment and joy.

Really, it comes down to deservedness. “What am I willing to receive?” This is the question I ask my mentees to help them understand and expand their deservedness, so none of us have to play small.

The sky is large enough for all of us to be stars. This means that if being an academic, on a tenure track is your goal, you can do so from a place of ease and flow and not hustle and grind. I learned how to do this work without selling my soul, but still understanding some inevitable complicity with higher education. Now, I teach people how to position themselves in academic or academic adjacent careers, be tenured, promoted, published, and do that work from a place of anchoring into their passion and beliefs. Those whom I mentor experience deep breakthroughs, bust out of old patterns, and produce goosebump-raising academic work that resonates deeply within their communities of practice.

I inspire people to think of the legacies they leave behind. If we expanded and liberated ourselves from limited thinking, then we can leave behind a kinder, generous, more compassionate and equity-driven higher education than how we found it. For that we have to give permission to ourselves to become bold, fierce, courageous, and maybe even pioneering thinkers and doers. And then the academic work will easily flow from a freedom-inducing and spirit-inspiring place.



Dr. Nicole A. Corley

I really just enjoy listening to Kakali in her element. I’m a listener and she is a great storyteller. She makes space for wholeness and being-ness where there wasn’t before for me. Every time we talk she shatters some notion of what I’ve been socialized to believe an academic and research should look like. I even wrote about that in my third-year review, the road it took for me to finally embrace that I am a qualitative scholar. I also appreciate how Kakali positions herself in the class, as a partnership with other minds in that space. It’s very similar to how I facilitate class. ”


- Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Lenwood, Hayman,

"I was having trouble writing up what I was working on previously because my heart was not in it. After talking with Kakali, I was able to realize the importance of doing work that resonates with me. In addition, you were also encouraging to me in reminding me that the work I was doing actually DID matter, despite how tragically humble I was about it. The thing I appreciated and continue to appreciate whenever we talk is Kakali’s compassion. I always feel like she genuinely cares about my well-being. Unfortunately, this does not happen very often in academia – genuine compassion – so I am always grateful when Kakali offers it to me. "


- Associate Professor, Morgan State University

Dr. Shobha Avadhani

"I liked the part where Dr. Kakali gave us focused feedback on our outputs and allowed us to be present for one another. I learned a lot from what she told me but I also learned a great deal from what she told the others. I watched her - a master teacher at work - being her amazing self. It didn’t matter where we were at in our development, she was able to meet us there. And listening to other people’s struggles and achievements gave me a sense of perspective, took me out of my own head, made me more empathetic, humble, and inspired. Dr. Kakali’s way of teaching sees everyone as human, and that makes everyone in the room rise to the occasion as well."


- Lecturer, National University of Singapore

Dr. Keondria McClish

"Dr. Bhattacharya supported me while I worked through learning qualitative methodology and worked on becoming a better writer. I understand qualitative methodology better and have more confidence in my writing and conceptualizing abilities. She has helped me work through some “impostor syndrome” issues that many graduate students and new professionals face. It also meant a lot that she did not talk down to me or expect me to know things on her level right away. She pointed me to resources that would help me learn more about qualitative methods and the vernacular. Most people want to be a better version of themselves (and are searching). They just want someone to set the example for them. Dr. Bhattacharya is that example for so many people."


- Independent Researcher

Dr. Kiersten Greene

"This mentoring process with Kakali has been positively transformative. As I look back on my career 20 years from now, this will be a pivotal moment in my personal and professional timeline. My experience in academia so far has been primarily marked by grief and anger -- as a graduate student, by the loss of my grandmother and communication with my family; as a faculty member, by the loss of my mentor and growing frustration with the system of education. In addition to dislodging that grief and anger, working with Kakali has helped me transform that suffering into something more productive."


- Associate Professor at SUNY New Paltz

Dr. Leia Cain

"I saw Kakali's post about the S2S program. I was immediately interested, as other consulting and mentoring programs that I had encountered were not led by a fellow methodologist, and certainly not led by someone as well known and well respected as Kakali. I have loved Kakali's work since my doctoral program, and had used her work in teaching qualitative methods to my own doctoral students, so I felt that this opportunity was too perfect to pass up!"


- Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Dr. Veena Balsawer

"I no longer feel stuck, or like an impostor. I am more optimistic about the future and feel more confident in my writing, and I have this overall feeling of being supported by Dr. Kakali throughout my mentoring journey with her. When I first started to work with Dr. Kakali, I was looking for a change, looking for something that would give me hope. She has not only given me hope but helped me look at my PhD as an opportunity to aim for something more (w)holistic, something more in line with my own purpose."


- Graduate from University of Ottawa, Independent Researcher

Work with Dr. Kakali

Do you want to do purpose-driven empowered work?



Courses & Workshops