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. 

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.

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.

Making Meaning (Part 2): Why focus on grad students?

It is possible for graduate students to check the boxes and to zombie-walk through the initiations and benchmarks of graduate school. Graduate students need and deserve mentoring that is intentional and cognizant of their meaning making process.

Graduate School as a Hero’s Journey

[Image of Moana from the 2016 Disney movie, Moana] “What all myths have to deal with is transformations of consciousness. You have been thinking one way, you now have to think a different way. Consciousness is transformed either by the trials themselves or by illuminating revelations. Trials and revelations are what it’s all about.” -JosephContinue reading “Graduate School as a Hero’s Journey”

What’s love got to do with academia?

“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” In All about Love, bell hooks “Graduate school should be hard,” a faculty member said bluntly in the summer of 2020 during a meeting of an ad hoc committee I participated in on graduate student mentalContinue reading “What’s love got to do with academia?”