Office of the Provost

Graduate student life gains ground at JMU

Graduate students Emily and Alys

SUMMARY: In cooperation with The Graduate School, two graduate students, Emily Kohl and Alys Sink, have been creating an online space to foster holistic professional development for graduate students.

By Alyse Lehrke, Strategic Leadership doctoral student at James Madison University.

JMU’s Graduate School serves a broad and diverse graduate student body. Laura Ryman, Director of Graduate Student Services, explained, “Over the past several years, we have increased our commitment to enhancing, increasing, and raising awareness of the resources and support available to all of our graduate students.” This commitment is reflected in the growing number of initiatives and partnerships providing professional development and other resources for graduate students at JMU.

A presentation of the Six Key Factors of Grad Success at Cohen Center

A gift from the late Dr. Ralph Cohen allowed the establishment of The Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism. This interdisciplinary hub brings together people and ideas dedicated to the research and development of graduate students. Through its lecture series, sponsored events, student presentations and partnerships with organizations like the Graduate Student Association (GSA), the Cohen Center is reaching its benefactor’s vision for engaging graduate students in meaningful dialogues and innovative scholarship. But it’s not just about meeting graduate students’ intellectual needs.

Through a partnership with the student leadership of the GSA, the Cohen Center in Wilson Hall, room 107, houses the Grad n’ Go food pantry, designed to assist graduate students with essential needs.

Grad N Go Also coordinated by the GSA, The Cohen Center hosts study session lockdowns. These sessions allow graduate students to connect and support each other while also finding a good space and the time for studying.  Through these and other initiatives like the annual Graduate Student Community Dinner, Happy Hour gatherings and travel grants to support graduate students traveling to present at conferences, the GSA is growing relationships and cultivating a strong support network for graduate students at JMU.

In cooperation with The Graduate School, two graduate students, Emily Kohl and Alys Sink, have been creating an online space to foster holistic professional development for graduate students. According to Emily, her background in professional development with the Center for Faculty Innovation left her “determined to create similar opportunities for graduate students.” With the support of The Graduate School and the Cohen Center, Emily and Alys are creating a comprehensive listing of resources available to graduate students at JMU in six main of areas of professional development: 1) scholarship, 2) teaching, 3) communication, 4) career planning, 5) leadership, and 6) wellness. The resources have been published on a newly launched website. “A lot of good comes from pooling resources to offer deeper, more meaningful professional development experiences,” remarked Emily.

In the future, the Grad Success site will also feature a blog with expert advice on a variety of topics relevant to graduate students. Plus, Grad Success, in conjunction with The Cohen Center, plans to host workshops for graduate students to develop critical skills in various areas. Alys summarized her aspirations for this project, saying that “I hope these resources help grad students feel like a community and give them confidence as well-rounded professionals.” Although Emily and Alys are nearing the end of their graduate studies, they envision the Grad Success project as a dynamic and lasting part of the graduate education experience at JMU.

If you offer a valuable resource that could benefit JMU’s graduate students, please contact The Cohen Center at or The Graduate School at .

Published: Monday, December 12, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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