Tips for Grads: Become a part of the UW-Madison community

By Olivia Gacka, PhD Student

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting on a Q&A panel with fellow graduate students as part of the New Graduate Student Welcome, where we met incoming graduate students. The topic of finding friends and community came up almost immediately, and it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the unique position graduate students often find themselves in at a school like UW.

Some of us may have chosen this school because of “the school,” but it’s much more likely we chose it for a particular advisor, a lab, a program, in-state tuition, or other funding opportunities. These are all legitimate reasons to choose a graduate school, but it often results in feelings of alienation from the campus community as a whole. As we are still early in this new semester, whether you are a new or returning graduate student, I would encourage you to think about the ways you can invest yourself in the UW–Madison community while you are here.

One particularly good opportunity to do so is coming up at the “Building Community, Connecting With Our Past” reception for graduate students, happening September 19 from 4 to 6 pm on the Pyle Center rooftop. In addition to having the chance to meet graduate students across programs, departments, and schools over free food and beautiful views of Lake Mendota, we’ll be hearing about the UW–Madison Public History Project, “a multi-year effort to uncover and give voice to those who experienced and challenged exclusion on campus.” We’ll hear from Kacie Lucchini Butcher, the director of the project, about the new exhibit that opened at the Chazen Museum yesterday, and have the opportunity to learn what being a member of the UW–Madison community meant in the past and means in the present.

I hope to see many of you there and hope that wherever you choose to look, you find a community in Madison that is meaningful to you.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.