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Graduate students celebrate inaugural Appreciation Week

Charitha Isanaka | Monday, February 18, 2013

This week’s first annual Graduate Student Appreciation Week offers graduate students the opportunity to develop their professional, academic and social lives in an effort to help them feel more included in the Notre Dame community.

Mimi Beck, program director of Graduate Student Life, said the graduate population often feels invisible at Notre Dame, a place whose identity is defined by the undergraduate experience.

“The hope is that our post-baccalaureates – who comprise nearly a third of the Notre Dame student body – will come to feel as welcome, as valued and as much a part of the university community as any other student on campus,” Beck said.

The week opens today with free coffee and donuts in the C1 and D2 parking lots and ends Sunday with an Oscar Night Party at the Fischer O’Hara-Grace Graduate Residences.

Social events include the Rock-n-Reckers dinner and concert Monday night, when rock band The Standard Deviants will perform while students enjoy free pizza. The Standard Deviants is composed of Brian Baker, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Ben Ridenhour and Shaun Lee, both assistant professors in the Department of Biological Sciences.

On the professional side, Beck said Associate Dean of Students John Lubker will host Grad School Game Plan on Thursday, during which he will teach skills for time management, overcoming distractions and maximizing productivity.

Tamara Shaya, a graduate student working toward her Master’s in International Peace Studies, said the Graduate Student Appreciation Week demonstrates Notre Dame’s commitment to its post-baccalaureate students and their contributions.

 “I’m hoping the week will be a great opportunity for my friends and I to experience fun events, enjoy free giveaways, learn new skills and get to know other members of the graduate student community,” Shaya said.

The Graduate School and the Division of Student Affairs partnered to create Graduate Student Life in the summer of 2012, Beck said. The division aims to enhance the educational experience and quality of life for Notre Dame’s post-baccalaureate population. 

“Hosting an Appreciation Week was seen as a great way to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduate and professional students while providing greater campus-wide awareness at the same time,” Beck said.

Graduate Student Life has been laying foundations for future growth during its first year of existence, Beck said. This includes the administration of a comprehensive survey of graduate student life, the first of its kind since 2006, to help guide decisions for programs and services in the future.

Additional projects include the creation of a Grad Ambassadors program to bring greater awareness to the needs, challenges and contributions of graduate and professional students.