Twenty Questions with Graduate Student Government President Gibin Raju

Written by Erin Michel, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate School.

A man in a black coat leans against a wall with his arms crossed.

Gibin Raju, 4th year Education Engineering student and 2022-2023 GSG president

Get to know your 2022-2023 GSG President Gibin Raju! Gibin answers an eclectic range of questions about student government, academics, UC, food, travel, hobbies, and more. Read on to learn more about Gibin and the Graduate Student Government. 

Q: What made you decide to run for GSG president?  

A: Advocating for the needs of the graduate student has been a strong motivation for me to run for the GSG president position. I have been involved in Graduate Student Government ever since I joined UC as president and committee member representing grad students in my department. Attending the general assembly meetings made me realize that I had the potential to lead, advocate, and serve more graduate students by listening to their concerns and help them graduate their degree programs with less stress.

Q: Who are some of your role models?  

A: My parents are my role models. I have inherited some qualities from each of them which makes me a unique person. Dad has strong management skills. He was the one who used to pull me to submit homework at least two days before deadline. Mom has been great supporter of social service serving underrepresented minorities (URM) and had strong advocacy skills and leadership qualities. So here, you will find a combination of those skills in me.

Q: What are some of GSG’s goals or initiatives for the 2022-2023 academic year?  

A: We have a list of goals/initiatives that we would like to achieve this year which are as follows:

  1.  We would like to reduce the communication barriers between administration and graduate student government.

  2. We would like to establish a professional development center for all graduate students working closely with the Graduate School.

  3. We already have achieved the goal of increasing the Research Fellowship budget this year. 

  4. We would like to increase the engagement of graduate students by offering more events so that there is a sense of belonging within the graduate student community

  5. We would like to increase the scholarships including GA/RA/TA funds available to graduate students.

  6. We would like to increase all the DEI and mental health related efforts across the campus. 

  7. The list goes on...

A fried banana dish.

Pazham nirchathu/stuffed banana is one of Gibin's favorite foods.

Q: What are a few of your favorite restaurants in Cincinnati?  

A: That is a very tricky question, I am a foodie. In each cuisine, I have a favorite. For Italian it is Pepp & Dolores, American cuisine would be The Eagle, Chinese would be Sichuan Palace, Indian would be Adeep India, and the list goes on.

Q: What do you study? Tell me about your research.  

A: I am a second-year PhD student in Engineering Education at the Department of Engineering and Computing Education in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. My research currently is focusing on exploring the relationship between spatial skills and engineering design. In simpler words, spatial skills are defined as the capacity to understand, reason, and remember the visual and spatial relations among objects or space. What I am trying to find is, if students with higher spatial skill levels will be able to design better. We used different instruments and tests to explore this relationship. Since spatial skill is a better indicator of success in STEM, this research would hope to affirm the importance of teaching spatial skills.

Q: What is one piece of advice that has changed your life?  

A: “Don’t let the limitation of others limit your vision.” I was told by my cousin who quit aeronautical engineering that it is beyond your limit, don’t even waste your time to studying for it. My neighbors were saying “this is too ambitious, don’t you think you are overestimating your willpower?” My mom told me to avoid letting others tell you what you can’t do and show them what you can achieve. I was on the top 5 of 100 students in my batch.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a GSG officer?

A: The favorite part of being a GSG officer is the conversations with administrators. I love advocating for my fellow grad students and that has been always my favorite part of being an officer. 

Q: What were you like growing up?  

A: During my childhood, my life revolved around cartoon, aircrafts, and music. I was very passionate about how spaceships and aircrafts float on air, which lead to me pursue my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering. I was super curious and creative when it came to projects. My mom described me as “the happy kid”.

Q: Why did you choose UC for your graduate education?  

A: UC will be one of the top colleges for any graduate student to pursue a graduate degree in aerospace engineering when you want to particularly want to focus on propulsion as the field of specialization.

Q: If you could be one animal, which one would it be and why?  

A: That is a hard question, I think I would like to say I am a combination of dolphin and elephant. But I think I would go with elephant because even they are strong and great leaders and good communicators while working as team.

Q: What career goals do you have post-graduation?  

A: I would like to be a research faculty member and also work as an administrator simultaneously. I would like to increase the diversity of students in STEM. I would like to support programs that help first gen and underrepresent students better prepare for STEM courses. If you ask me like in 10 years, maybe a dean or president of a university. 

A geyser that is steaming and some trees.

A photo from Gibin's trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Q: What is the coolest place you've ever travelled to? 

A: Yellowstone National Park was one of the coolest places I have travelled to in the U.S. I still remember the colors in the grand prismatic spring. It was rainbow of colors, different shades of orange, yellow and green with deep blue waters in the spring. I think I might be able to find a picture of it somewhere in my gallery. Also, the wooden cabin I stayed in near the park was amazing as well.  

Q: What do you like to do for fun?  

A: That purely depends on my mood. Sometimes, I go for long walks with my dog (Eva) around Burnet woods, sometimes I would like to go out for dinner, sometimes I take care of my plants, and sometimes I bake.

Q: What words of advice do you have for students who might be struggling?  

A: “Never suffer in silence.” This has been my advice to everyone. Suffering in silence leads to a lot of things including trauma and frustration and only brings more pain and misery. But when we open instead of hiding, things eventually get better. This was one of the reasons for me to start a Graduate Peer Support Group for all graduate students at the university.

Q: What do you wish that students knew about GSG?  

A: I really wish for students to understand that GSG is striving hard to make their student experience as beneficial as possible for them. We are here for them trying to promote their educational and research goals beyond what is required for the degree.

Q: What would make up your perfect meal?  

A: ¼ portion of vegetables, ¼ portion of fruits, ¼ of carbs and ¼ portion of proteins would make a perfect meal for me.

Q: How do you handle stress?  

A: I take breaks from what I am doing. I always try to do something that makes me happy. It starts with playing with my pet Eva. Taking care of plants is my favorite of all. People recommend gardening because it grounds you and resets your mood. Sometimes, I listen to music, try meditation and or even try talking to a person. 

Q: What is the value of a graduate education?  

A: I think having a graduate degree will boost your chance to get more pay when compared to undergraduate degree. Also, it gives better career advancement on a focused area by gaining additional credentials, hone your professional skills and helps you to change careers if you want to switch from your previous degree.

Q: What is your favorite holiday?  

A: Christmas is always my favorite holiday. It is when our families come jointly and give gifts to one another to celebrate their love for each other. Since my childhood, I always liked opening my gifts. I feel there are not many better feelings in the world than when a loved one opens the gift you gave them and smiles. It is also the time when our family prepares a lot of variety of cakes, wines and food.

Q: What is one personal goal that you have for yourself this semester?  

A: For this semester, I would like to work more towards my research area and write more publications. Since my goal is to get into R1 universities as professor, I will need to have as many publications as possible.

A man in a black coat stands in front of a grey wall.