GSEE invited Core Programs staff to facilitate a power hour event called Thriving in Graduate School. Graduate students who attended had the opportunity to learn from a panel of experienced graduate students of color currently working on their Masters and Doctoral degrees. These included Jessica Hernandez (Marine and Environmental Affairs & Environmental and Forest Sciences), Crystal Agoncillo (Evans School of Public Policy and Governance), Lindsey Wilson (Education), and Issa Abdulcadir (Sociology), who shared their wisdom and strategies for surviving and thriving—within and outside of graduate school. We thank them for allowing us to share their pearls of wisdom below.
Self-advocacy. In order for you to get the support you need, meet goals, and achieve milestones as a graduate student—it is important that you advocate for yourself so you can be–and feel–successful. If you are in need of emotional, professional, or intellectual mentorship from peers, reach out to students within and outside of your cohort. Finally, take the initiative to schedule regular meetings with faculty mentors and advisors. E-mail them a meeting request with a short, realistic list of things you’ll be talking about (e.g. coursework, preparing for a conference, the progress of your thesis or dissertation, job search, or even a set of questions that will help you understand your graduate program better), and a list of dates and times you can meet, especially if you are unable to meet during their office hours. As you need to, negotiate for changing deadlines to ensure you are putting forth your best work.
Community. Recognize that you are a whole person, with a need for community on and off campus. It is perfectly okay (and necessary) for you to foster community with students, staff, and faculty across campus, especially if you have similar life experiences based on race, gender, ability, sexuality, economic background, or nationality. Connecting with individuals who share experiences based on your identities and shared values can help decrease isolation and buffer the effects of campus-based microaggressions. Connecting with community can also look like making time in your schedule to spend time with, skype, or call loved ones to maintain relationships with family and friends, especially if you moved to Washington for graduate school from another state or country. This can also look like volunteering with local organizations and social movements in your city, as many of us care deeply about issues of equity and social justice.
Purpose. As above, connecting with people and causes that you care about will keep you fueled for the long road ahead that is graduate school. Remember why you are here and the contributions you want to make. Your purpose and passion is your North Star and can help to ground you when the deadlines, demands, and noise around you get to be too much. And remember that you belong here. Make the UW Graduate School experience your own, make your graduate student experience work for YOU. #UWGradSuccess #UWGOMAP
Kelly, Jaye, and Ziyan
Core Programs Team
Thank you again to the grad student panelists and GSEE for co-organizing another successful power hour event and for asking us to collaborate with them!