Love letters from graduate students

I received the email about the book award the evening before I made my resignation public. That message helped me balance my grief with all of the loving relationships and communities I had been a part of creating over my 18 years. As I depart this university, I cherish the book and the contained graduate students’ essays as love letters. Between the lines, I can see, hear, and feel what mattered to them about the worlds we co-created. 

Slow down! Graduate student developers at play

Graduate student developers regularly perform pure magic with professional development programming for graduate students: pedagogy workshops, learning communities, feedback on teaching philosophy statements, classroom observations. At the same time, we make invisible what a project really costs in terms of specialized time, skills, and energy. 

I identify as a facilitator

In distant kinship to midwives and doulas, I help graduate student individuals and groups give birth to new ideas and new self-/group-concepts. It’s up to the person or group to decide what direction they want to grow in, and then I help them develop their capacities. That might be about having new ideas, developing a more complete understanding of a problem, nurturing compassion for difficulties, practicing new skills, or committing to a bold action.

Self-reflection: Developing awareness of your inner spark

I want PhDs to be able to communicate about their skills, interests, values, preferences, and strengths: who they are, what they need, and what fulfills them. Self-knowledge helps PhDs make conscious choices in all aspects of their lives that are aligned; they will know why they are doing something and whether they are acting in alignment with their values and commitments. When graduate students and postdocs are consciously engaged in the curation of all aspects of their lives, their academic work can be in balance and harmony with rest, play, movement, creativity, friendships, family, and community.

Accompaniment in graduate student development

Graduate students, postdocs, and colleagues are contemplating change, a process of dramatic and emotional self-examination, assessing their environment, weighing options, evaluating their aid systems, and assembling their supportive relationships. Their imaginations are wild with possibilities. They know they are approaching a choice to voice what they want for their true selves. They know they are preparing to, but aren’t quite ready to, decide whether to let a past version of themselves go and a new version emerge. I hold space for graduate students, postdocs and professional development coaches who are contemplating, considering, preparing for, and committing to change.


I participated in these conference wanderings as a temporarily physically disabled person. I acknowledge many layers of privilege of my social position. Also, I hope that, through my social position, I can raise awareness about ways we can do meetings that are more accommodating and inclusive. Knowing that I was experiencing pain and tiredness in ways most others weren’t, I had to learn to self-advocate to make my life manageable to attend these events. I told my friends in advance what to expect from me and what help they could offer. And I offered myself opportunities for more rest, more solitude, a place to sit, ice, more time between locations, and quiet protected time to talk one-on-one.

Hey there, punty girl!

I earned the title Punty Girl last night in glass blowing class. My classmates harmoniously sing out “Punty” to get my attention and request my assistance. I am honored to serve the role and I enthusiastically offer my punty abilities to my glass blowing classmates. I’ve already made some Weird Al songs variations for myself: Hey There, Punty Girl and Pass the Punty.

Toolboxes and Treasure Chests

On the radio on a drive to pick up dinner last night, the interviewee mentioned having a “treasure chest of responses” in regards to their parenting. Not a toolbox. A treasure chest. That shift in word choice changed a lot about my perspective on the relationship of teacher-student and facilitator-instructor.