Sneak Peek: Graduate Student Appreciation Week, April 3-7

Written by Erin Michel, Graduate Assistant to the Graduate College

Coffee, donuts, ice cream, massages, therapy ponies, therapy dogs, yoga, swag, cookies, plant pot painting, oh my! If any of these words piqued your interest, well, you’re in luck. The Graduate College will be hosting its inaugural Graduate Student Appreciation Week next week from April 3-7, and we’ve lined up a plethora of events and goodies to show appreciation for our beloved GradCats. You deserve it! Check out the full lineup of events on the Grad College website, and read on for more info.  

EVENTS, ACTIVITIES & giveaways - 1
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Ellie Montenegro, Graduate Assistant for Student Outreach and Success at the Graduate College

I sat down with Ellie Montenegro, Graduate Assistant for Student Success and Outreach here at the Graduate College (and one of the masterminds behind Grad Student Appreciation Week!) to get the inside scoop on the event. I started off with a simple but important question: why is it important to show appreciation for graduate students?  

“When it comes to university support and programming, a lot of efforts can be made towards undergraduate students, you know, high transition times and whatnot,” Montenegro explains. “But for graduate students, it can be difficult to form those connections, find that support, find that community, and get that kind of recognition, despite all the hard work that you've been putting in [to your degree]. So, for us to have a week to kind of say, you know, we see you, we support you, we appreciate everything you've done and we're rooting for you back here—I think it'll be really nice to see.”  

Montenegro explains that Grad Student Appreciation Week is a national observance that takes place annually on the first week of April, but UC has never had a chance to celebrate the occasion until now. Montenegro, along with her supervisor Amy Robinson Wheeler, built UC’s weeklong programming from the ground up, using creativity and consultation to figure out exactly what kinds of offerings would make students feel optimally appreciated. “Planning this week was actually a ton of fun,” says Montenegro. “There was a lot of brainstorming about what kind of goodies and swag people would be excited about receiving, how we could connect virtual students who aren't on campus, making sure that events are accessible on all areas of campus, things like that.” Offerings for online students include virtual care packages, virtual mindfulness and yoga sessions, and more. In-person students can enjoy weeklong programming across the entirety of campus (including the Medical Campus!).  

Montenegro shares that while she believes that all events will be of interest to students, the mental health fair (Thursday April 7, 10AM-12PM in Teachers-Dyer Room 407 and 12-1:30PM in CARE/Crawley atrium) specifically will offer a great chance to attendees to indulge in some much-needed self-care. “We’re working on getting therapy ponies!” she tells me, “And also just a ton of resources for grad students to help take care of themselves.” As a mental health counseling master’s student herself, Montenegro recognizes the importance of mental health within the graduate community.  “As a graduate student, you're balancing so much. Not just your classes but also, you know, normal life. Things like making dinner, paying bills; a lot of us are also balancing part-time mark or full-time employment. There's just a lot to balance and I think it can be easy for us to forget to take care of ourselves, even in small ways.”  

Students should be aware that certain events, such as yoga sessions, mindfulness sessions, and the plant pot painting event require pre-registration; visit the event website to RSVP and view the full schedule of events. Additionally, keep an eye on the Graduate College’s Instagram throughout the week for updates and reminders. Want to spread the love yourself? Submit a shout-out for a grad student that you appreciate and get featured on our social media accounts!