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Graduate school mentorship introduced

By Jieya Wen     4/15/15 10:08am

The graduate/undergraduate mentorship program that intends to facilitate interaction and mentorship among graduate and undergraduate students attracted 207 undergraduate student applicants according to Chris Sabbagh, a former Jones College senator.

Once the Graduate Student Association collects applications for graduate student mentors, the Student Association Academics Committee will pair graduate and undergraduate students before the program official begins next semester, Sabbagh, a Jones College sophomore, said.

“The idea is to pair at most three undergraduate students with a graduate student,” Sabbagh said. “We will be considering the location of college, hopefully keeping them at a close area. Then we will also be considering the academic specialization that they want to go into.”



According to Sabbagh, there will be an introductory kickoff event for undergraduate and graduate students to socialize in next semester. The program suggests the paired students meet three times during a semester. 

“We don’t want people signing up for this program and having nothing come out of it,” Sabbagh said. “We are thinking of sending out follow-up surveys saying, ‘Did you meet with your graduate students,’ ‘Did you feel this was beneficial to you’ and ‘What would you like to see in future meetings.’”

The program will close with a “celebratory mixer” event, recognizing the work people did for this program and the students who get into graduate school.

Sabbagh said he realized that Rice lacks in certain graduate programs, such as medical schools or journalism school, so the mentorship program cannot satisfy every students’ needs. 

 

“The goal is to ultimately utilize the [graduate programs] that will be most beneficial to undergraduate students,” Sabbagh said. “I think what we are doing is focusing on what we do have right now, seeing if that is going to be successful and then in the future expand on that.”

According to Director of Academic Advising Brian Gibson, statistics show about 70 percent of students at Rice will attend professional programs within five years after they graduate. Graduate students will be a good resource for students who want to apply for graduate schools, Sabbagh said.

“One [aspect of this program] is a mentorship side, which is a way for undergraduate students to talk to graduate students about advice on how to apply to graduate school and what the culture of graduate school is like,” Sabbagh said.

Sabbagh said the second aspect of the program is to increase interaction among graduate and undergraduate students. The mentorship program integrates graduate students into the associates program. 

“So through this program, graduate students will be like associates in the sense that they will be able to eat a limited amount of free meals at the colleges,” Sabbagh said. “They will be able to attend associates nights at their colleges. This would increase the personal connection between the graduate and the undergraduate students here.”

Amritha Kanakamedala, former SA external vice president, said the program was initiated by students. The idea for the program was suggested by Mitchell Massey, a Jones College senior, who has worked on this program with Kanakamedala and Sabbagh since last semester. 

“This program has received a lot of support from students, both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the administration,” Kanakamedala said. “We have support from the [Office of Academic Advising], Dean Hutchison’s office, as well as from the office of Dr. Matsuda, the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Students.”

Sabbagh said there are more applicants than expected, as well as support from the administration that will ensure the longevity of this program.

“Our hope is that we are formalizing this process so that it can happen every year,” Sabbagh said.

Cassie Peretore, a Martel College junior, said she applied for the program, which she thinks would be beneficial for students who want to apply for graduate schools. 

“Rice has always had great resources for students on pre-med tracks or pre-law tracks,” Peretore said. “But those of us who are interested in different types of grad schools struggle a little more to find mentors. I’m really excited about this program because it’ll give me an opportunity to meet a grad student I never would have met and get valuable advice I never would’ve gotten. For those of us who applied to this program and are interested in grad school paths that are less ‘paved out,’ this will be really beneficial.”



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