Photo by Jonathan Jeffrey

On Wednesday, Aug. 29, first-year and returning graduate students alike streamed into the spacious McCamish Pavilion, seated for the first ever Graduate Student Convocation.

The idea of hosting a Graduate Student Convocation was developed based on the recommendations from last year’s Path Forward Campus Culture action team, which found that graduate students desired a better sense of a community.

The action team found that one of the largest items that diminished the community aspect of the graduate student experience compared to the undergraduate student experience was the lack of a proper celebratory event to welcome students to the school: hence, the creation of the inaugural Graduate Student Convocation.

Finding ways for graduate students to connect to the holistic aspects of student life was a persistent theme in the programming of the event.

“I hope that all of you will explore student life and community engagement opportunities as you begin your graduate degree here at the Georgia Institute of Technology,” said President G.P. “Bud” Peterson to the many rows of graduate students filling the stands of McCamish,

Peterson praised the diversity and creativity of the graduate student population and encouraged them to take advantage of the vibrant community around them. 

“Our graduate students overall hail from 127 different countries around the globe,” Peterson said.

Peterson was followed by a student welcome from Shane Jacobeen, a doctoral candidate in the School of Physics.

Jacobeen likewise encouraged graduate students to make friends and get involved.

““My first recommendation I would like to share is to surround yourself with the right people,”  Jacobeen said.“This is especially significant for those of you will be choosing advisors and researchers, but I advise it to everyone in some way because it is so important to have people around you who can support each other.”

Jacobeen also stressed that a healthy social life leads not only to a more pleasurable graduate student experience, but also a healthier mind.

“Growing research suggests that a strong social network is key component of mental health.” Jacobeen said.

Other speakers from administration included Rafael L Bras, the provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, Bonnie Ferri, the vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development.

In a nice touch alluding to the importance of research communication skills, computer science graduate student Tesca Fitzgerald  shared a light-hearted Three-Minute Thesis detailing her research in teaching robots by example.

After the Graduate Student Convocation, graduate students attendees were invited to the graduate student picnic.