Drexel University has more than 8,600 graduate and professional students enrolled to date.
Despite their busy schedules and various roles they hold on campus, Graduate Student Day is the annual marker where they are all encouraged to gather together and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, as well as their own.
This year’s festivities, hosted by the Graduate Student Association (GSA), Student Life and the Graduate College, were held on May 30, and included an awards ceremony and reception held in the Bossone Research Enterprise Center.
Alex Will-Cole, a PhD candidate in materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering and the outgoing GSA president, initially welcomed attendees to the ceremony.
“To the graduate students here today, thank you for enriching the Drexel culture and academic legacy,” she said. “I’d also like to thank the faculty and staff that mentor and support graduate students here. We do appreciate it.”
Will-Cole went on to outline the many accomplishments of the GSA this academic year, including new campus partnerships, the programming of over 50 campus events, expanding the Drexel Emerging Graduate Scholars Conference to two days, as well as exploring new avenues for graduate student advocacy and funding.
“With this year’s accomplishments and the newly elected board which will be announced later this evening, I can say the future of graduate students at Drexel is very bright,” Will-Cole said.
Vice Provost of Graduate Education Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, PhD, then explained why Graduate Student Day is one of her favorite events of the year because of the recognition it provides to “our incredible graduate student community.”
“The mission of the Graduate College is, we know that you’re focused on your academics within your academic units, but we are so interested in advocating for you at the University to make the graduate student experience really remarkable and enduring,” she told graduate students. “We hope that you will recognize not only the strong academics that we have at Drexel, but life outside of the classroom is awesome at Drexel and that’s what we want to support through the Graduate College.”
Will-Cole next announced the winners of the Graduate Student Association Awards, with each winning organization and individual receiving a plaque that would be hung in the Graduate Student Lounge for everyone to admire.
“These organizations and individuals have demonstrated positive attitudes for excellence and have contributed greatly to the graduate population,” she said. “We are very thankful for their presence and the work they have done on behalf of us all.”
After a music-and-dance performance from Drexel’s Indian Graduate Student Association PRAGATHI, Anne Converse Wilkomm, MFA, an assistant clinical professor and the department head of Graduate Studies in the Goodwin College of Professional Studies, then took the stage to present the Graduate Student Excellence Awards. Wilkomm chaired the committee of faculty and staff which determined the winners of awards in mentorship, scholarship, civic engagement and research excellence.
“Candidates this year were beyond outstanding,” she said. “It was not an easy task.”
Next, Chair of the Teaching Assistant Excellence Awards Subcommittee Alexis Finger, an associate teaching professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, announced those winners, which she said has been a privilege of hers for many years.
“Many people ask, ‘What makes the teacher excellent?’ Well, it’s many things,” she explained. “It’s the teacher who has passion for her subject that’s contagious. It’s the teacher who shows joy in interacting with her students. It’s the teacher who has the ability to break down complex topics and make them accessible to all of her students by accommodating different styles of learning. And, it’s the teacher who encourages students to work hard, and has the patience and interest in helping his students succeed, even when they doubt their own ability. … These are just some of the comments that we read in this year’s nominations, and these are the reasons that inspire students to think that their TAs are truly excellent.”
Tsk Kwok, EdD, associate director of the Graduate College, then presented the Graduate College Recognition Awards for a variety of volunteerism and longtime support of the College that comes from every corner of the University.
“Over the years, the Graduate College has had the privilege of working with so many talented faces including faculty, professional staff and student organizational leaders,” Kwok said. “At times, I think God must be with us because there are so many angels here at Drexel. These are the people who are committed to the advancement of graduate education and the professional development our graduate students. Without them, we would not be able to achieve all the initiatives and alignment at the University.”
Finally, Michael Ryan, PhD, an assistant teaching professor for the College of Engineering and director of graduate student organizations for the Graduate College, had the honor of rounding out the event by announcing the new GSA Executive Board for the 2019-2020 academic year.
“It’s that time of the year that we have to be both sad and excited at the same time,” he said, “sad to see the outgoing GSA board leave and not be with us anymore, and of course excited to work with the new incoming GSA board.”
See the full list of award winners and new GSA leaders here. Review photos from the Graduate Student Day ceremony and reception here. Read last year’s DrexelNow Graduate Student Day coverage here.