Graduate Orientation Kicks off at the Resource Fair
By Sharday Mosurinjohn
3rd September 2013
This year’s Graduate Resource Fair, a kickoff event to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Orientation Week, had a specially personalized feel. SGS Coordinator Recruitment Activities Colette Steer greeted students at the doors of the Biosciences Complex with an event map and prize draw card as they came in to collect their nametags.
“It’s great to move around in a nice space like the atrium, rather than only receiving information in a lecture-style format” said one student just beginning his PhD. Said another embarking on his MA, “I’m coming to Queen’s from a very small campus, and I’ve been surprised by how homey it already feels. I really appreciate so many staff, faculty, and fellow students coming out to show us such a caring and kind welcome.”
Students circulated among dozens of booths representing community organizations, student clubs, and campus services before Brenda Brouwer (Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies) and Principal Daniel Woolf offered their words of welcome. For students looking to get acquainted with the University landscape, campus tours occasionally departed from the BioSci hub, while those looking to chat with new colleagues and connections had the opportunity to sit and relax with a nice cup of coffee or tea. While students got acquainted with resources ranging from campus art galleries and Queen’s archives, to community housing, hospitality services and campus security, the energy in the atrium was kept high by a DJ who spun a selection of Canadian hip hop and indie music.
A number of current and former graduate students were present to staff the booths. Student docents from the Agnes Etherington Art Centre offered a map of public sculpture on campus, while the Alumni Association was on hand to let everyone know that, “graduate or undergraduate, its mission is to link you with your future opportunities as part of the Queen’s network.” The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre invited one and all to its biweekly Feast Nights, and welcomed students of aboriginal ancestry, who, according to Paul Chaput (Geography PhD Candidate and member, Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University), number about 300 among the roughly 24,000-person campus. The Teaching Assistant/Teaching Fellow booth joined up with the PSAC 901 union-sponsored Association of Research Assistant Employees, which, said ARAE/PSAC organizer Auden Cody Neuman, is “hoping by November to offer Queen’s research assistants the choice to unionize.” Always advocating on behalf of students’ needs, OPIRG was also present, with volunteer and Cultural Studies student Robin McDonald handing out a call for submissions to their new zine that “offers an outlet for students to write, paint, photograph, or storyboard their thoughts pertaining to issues of mental health.”
While new and continuing students continued to make connections at the fair (only a few students wondered aloud where the cotton candy and Ferris wheel had gone) Brouwer introduced a packed auditorium to the Strategies for Success presentation. She emphasized Queen’s commitment to a balanced suite of resources, with both professional and skills development, as well as health and wellness. In addition to making a plan and setting a vision for your own research, the SGS’s message this year honed in on forming strong support networks. In this spirit, attendees were introduced to the SGS staff whose job it is to make this new year of graduate studies a great one.
By noon, students were ready to break for lunch and then head off to their department-specific programming, many of them looking forward to the next day’s orientation event, Teaching Development Day, open to all students and post-doctoral fellows interested in teaching to meet and learn about new and interesting developments in teaching and learning.