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Graduate School BIPOC Alliance Reflects on First Event, Plans Programming
The Graduate School’s new initiative for building community, networks and a sense of welcome in support of graduate students who self-identify as Black, Indigenous or other persons of color kicked off the year with an event featuring a panel and outdoor gathering at the Inn Complete. The Graduate School BIPOC Alliance for Excellence (GSBA) is open to all master’s and Ph.D. students at the University, from any background, race, gender or other identity.
More than 150 students attended the Sept. 3 event.
“One thing felt certain, after being online or isolated for much of last year, students are eager to make connections with others,” says Phillandra Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in special education who helped coordinate the event.
The event achieved one of its initial goals, which was to bring together students from departments across the University. “Those in attendance spoke with optimism and excitement about the initiative and the opportunity to connect with other students of color on campus,” says Smith.
The panel discussion featured graduate students Tyler Bell, a Ph.D. candidate in cultural foundations of education; Vito Laia, a Ph.D. candidate in physics; and Riansimone Harris, a Ph.D.candidate in sociology. The panelists shared the challenges they face as BIPOC graduate students and strategies they used to build community on campus.
Sadie Xiao Hua Novak, a PhD candidate in chemistry, says she is choosing to get involved because she likes the idea of a broader community home base for graduate students of color.
“I am hoping for networking opportunities where we can meet graduate students, not just from our department, but from across campus,” she says. “I would like to see professional development opportunities for graduate students of color and opportunities to explore career paths both in academia and industry.”
GSBA’s next event, “Navigating Mentorship as a BIPOC Graduate Students,” is Oct. 14 and will be conducted in a virtual format. BIPOC faculty members will share their experiences with mentoring in higher education and engage in small group discussions with attendees. Students and others interested in attending may RSVP online by Wednesday, Oct. 13.