Graduate School Diversity Office welcomes students at Weisman

The event focused on scholarship, opportunity and community.

Angela Gray

Maroon and gold spirit welcomed graduate students of all colors Thursday at the Graduate School Diversity Office welcome reception in the Weisman Art Museum.

One hundred twenty graduate students of many ethnicities working in numerous disciplines, from mechanical engineering to psychology to neurology, attended.

Patricia Jones Whyte, acting director of the Graduate School Diversity Office, hosted the event, which concentrated on scholarship, opportunity and community across disciplines.

“Our mission today is to welcome our multicultural graduate students,” she said.

Whyte introduced resources and workshops provided for graduate students covering topics such as preparing for preliminary and final examinations, how to balance work, life and graduate school, and how to write thesis and dissertation proposals.

Gail Dubrow, dean and vice provost of the Graduate School, welcomed the students and encouraged them to look beyond formal education and strive to be intellectual leaders.

“My graduate experience is fresh with memories other than my student loans, like the exhilaration of passing exams and other challenges with a community by my side,” she said.

Naomi Thomas, a nursing post-baccalaureate student, said she was glad the University had an office to assist multicultural graduate students.

“It’s a great resource for counseling and networking,” she said.

“After finishing an undergraduate degree, I think a lot of graduate students have worked, been out in the world and even started families before coming,” Thomas said. “It’s nice to have assistance while acclimating back into the school system.”

Sai Okabayashi, a graduate student and statistics teaching assistant, said the transition has not been difficult for him because of the people.

“I graduated from Harvard and then came to the ‘U’ and immediately liked the people and the energy,” he said.

“The ‘U’ is like this Midwest phenomenon. When I first came here, I thought now this is going to fun,” Okabayashi said.

Quintin Williams, a first-year graduate student in occupational injury prevention, said the first time he visited the University he felt welcomed by the graduate program.

“They treated me like I was Michael Jordan,” Williams said.

“I am the first in my family ever to seek this level of education,” he said, “let alone a Ph.D.”

While working toward his Ph.D., he said, he lost friends as they took different paths.

“It’s a struggle every day not having support from friends and family who don’t understand what you’re working for,” Williams said.

“That is why I am so thankful the graduate program is so supportive,” he said.

Each of the attendees stood up and shared some of the milestones of their graduate careers.

Graduate students spoke about passing preliminary exams, getting published, knowing where to go and not getting lost.

In closing, Whyte urged the students to work hard and work together.

“When the time comes and you’re walking on stage to get that diploma, I’ll be there in flesh, smiling.”