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Spotlight: Welcome Graduate Students

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Spotlight: Welcome Graduate Students

Date Published:
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

UNC Charlotte’s new class of graduate students will be welcomed by the Graduate School at the annual New Graduate Student Orientation scheduled for Saturday, August 17 at 9:00 AM. The annual event draws over 600 new graduate students who attend an introduction to graduate school by Dr. Tom Reynolds, Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, before breaking into a series of student-led panels.

The student-led panels are a relatively new feature and consist of graduate students in a variety of disciplines and degree levels, offering their expertise to the incoming class. Students meet with others in their specific degree program for interactive panels. Doctoral students cover topics like writing, funding through assistantships, choosing an advisor and navigating the dissertation process. Master’s students discuss similar topics, geared toward the kinds of research and practice opportunities open to master’s level students. Certificate and post-baccalaureate students have the opportunity to listen to a panel of their peers as wells as an associate dean of the Graduate School, who speaks about the admissions process for those interested in pursuing a degree.

New Graduate Student Orientation is an annual event held prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

I came to graduate orientation understanding that there would be student-led panels and was excited to get insight from students who are currently going through the process.
— Sabrina Speights, doctoral student in Organizational Science

"The Graduate School is committed to helping new students understand the expectations of faculty and of the level of work required by graduate students," says Assistant Dean Dr. Katherine Hall-Hertel. "Orientation is our first opportunity to share important information and help students understand the graduate culture at UNC Charlotte. We believe that by using current students the information is perceived as more authentic and credible. All in all, the panels prove to be a great success."

Additional workshops are planned for the afternoon session where graduate student might talk about topics such as academic writing, resources for students of color and non-traditional students, library research techniques, life in Charlotte and other useful topics.

At the fall 2012 event, Sabrina Speights, a doctoral student in the Organizational Science program, described her orientation experience by saying "I came to graduate orientation understanding that there would be student-led panels and was excited to get insight from students who are currently going through the process. When I looked at the panels offered, I was surprised by the 'Students of Color' panel because this is not usually an issue openly addressed at orientations. As an African-American woman, I was very interested in attending. I was prepared for a discussion surrounding how difficult it is to be a student of color and receiving advice about how to navigate multicultural resources on campus. What I received was a very insightful panel discussion based on the importance of being a successful and productive student as a whole, as opposed to searching for ways to be a successful "Black” student." The Virginia native continued, "The panel was a great opportunity to be open and honest about our lived experiences in a safe space. However, the ultimate message was that regardless of race or ethnic origin, we are all here to succeed and the panel provided tools and support to help us attain our own personal successes."

In addition to the student-led panels, the Graduate Life Fellows will organize a series of campus tours, taking new students across the expanding campus, while pointing out particular buildings and offices of interest.

Additional information about the New Graduate Student Orientation is available online.

Photo by Aaron Cress.