Natasha Keces, Child Study and Human Development PhD candidate and Graduate Student Council President
By now we are nearing the end of the Fall semester, making it halfway through another (hopefully not horribly treacherous) academic year at Tufts. Whether this is your first semester at Tufts, you are deep into your program, or you are thinking about Tufts as a potential school, I think that it is important to celebrate where you are and how you got here and to take some time for yourself.
When celebrating your hard work and considering your future at Tufts, you may also be looking for a like minded community to lift you up and offer more support. Although you, without a doubt, deserve to be here and have so much to offer not only the university but also your peers, understanding your place within the graduate student body can be a struggle. Departments, specific research teams, or learning environments are often physically or socially siloed within their respective spaces so connection with other people may not be immediate or seem natural. This can be hard (I know it was a transition for me!) but luckily support systems have been created by the university and other students.
In what probably won’t come as a surprise to you as a reader that I am very passionate about understanding and supporting graduate student life. This year I am the president of the Graduate Student Council, a wonderful team of elected graduate student representatives that have the sole mission of understanding the needs of the current graduate students and creating targeted support. Support can look like truly anything – including but not limited to decreasing the barrier to having a headshot by offering free photoshoots every semester, giving the opportunity for social connection and engagement with fun social events like bar nights, bowling, and pumpkin carving, fostering academic rigor and bolstering your CV with thesis and research competitions within the university, and creating the opportunity to give back to the broader Somerville community through community services events. In all of these spaces, you will meet people from all departments with all types of interests, experiences, and knowledge and get to know people you may have never interacted with otherwise. At the end of the day, we have all been thrown together in a similar environment at Tufts, gaining a unique shared experience as a member of the Tufts graduate student body that we can collectively grow from.
You can learn about all the events run by the Graduate Student Council and what we do on our social media (Instagram @tufts_ase_gsc, Facebook at Tufts ASE Graduate Student Council), monthly newsletter, Slack Channel, and website (https://sites.tufts.edu/asegsc/). More than focusing only on what we currently do, I consider our role as constantly thinking of ways to consider how we can adapt in the future to support graduate students in new ways. I always encourage emails to firstname.lastname@example.org to give me and the other GSC members more insight into your lives and how we can support you!
I also think in order to do your best work, to allow you to continue growing more in your time in your Tufts grad program, and to ease any other concerns that may be hindering your progress in your program, it can be important to know more about other resources that Tufts can offer graduate students. Here are just a few of my favorites:
The team at Tufts Student Support (https://students.tufts.edu/student-support) has been created to meet individual student needs and to direct you to other places that can help you flourish at Tufts. You can schedule individual appointments with them to talk about where you are at and how you can continue to succeed!
You may also be feeling the weight of financial burdens as they impact your ability to purchase food that sustains you to do your work. Various resources have been compiled and are available here (https://students.tufts.edu/dean-students-office/help-support/food-resources) in order to speak to food insecurity both on Tufts campus and in the larger community.
The university provides free graduate writing support and academic success coaching (https://students.tufts.edu/staar-center/academic-support/graduate-student-resources) – you can book up to weekly appointments during your time here.
If attending a social event held by the graduate student council feels too big and overwhelming, specific identity based centers (https://students.tufts.edu/division-student-diversity-and-inclusion-dsdi) offer opportunities for connection with individuals of similar identity groups through fun events and physical Medford campus spaces.
At the end of the day, you have made it so far and will only continue to grow in your time at Tufts (maybe even with the support of the Graduate Student Council or other Tufts resources!).