New graduate students welcomed at orientation

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

UNC Charlotte’s new class of graduate students was welcomed during a special orientation recently by Tom Reynolds, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School.

Nearly 600 graduate students attended the orientation, which featured student-led panels offering expertise to incoming members. Panelists representing a variety of disciplines and degree levels discussed various “keys to success.” Doctoral students covered topics, such as writing, funding through assistantships, choosing an advisor and navigating the dissertation process. Master’s students focused on similar topics, geared toward the kinds of research and practice opportunities available.

Sabrina Speights, a doctoral student in organizational science, said “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 organized a series of campus tours, taking new students across the expanding campus, while pointing out particular buildings and offices of interest.

 “The Graduate School is committed to helping new students understand the expectations of faculty and of the level of work required by graduate students,” said Katherine Hall-Hertel, assistant dean of the Graduate School. “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 were a great success.”