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It’s the end of the year as we know it, and we feel fine …

Graduate Student Life staff members wearing Grad Life t-shirts and masks May 12, 2021

By Nikita Thadani and Austin A. Deray

Wow, y’all, it’s the end of the year (as we know it … did anyone else get an R.E.M. vibe there). 

We have now completed three virtual or partially virtual terms, and we think we should all conGRADulate (stealing from our old blog editor Sophie Gorshenin) each other for a job well done. We’ve had some new amazing content come out this year on the Mason Grad Insider, our personal favorites being “Biking through the DMV and These COVID-19 Times“ and “5 Reasons You Should Get a Plant (or Several),” and have had 6 amazing guest writers: Dr. Shannon Davis, Lewis Forrest, Victoria Suarez, Kristin Leonato, Kerry Hentges, and Shauna Rigaud. We hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s blogs and had fun with our throwbacks. 

Austin: For me, this has been an interesting year. I finally advanced to candidacy in my PhD program last spring and had to figure out how to reconfigure my project in light of both a global pandemic and moments of racial reckonings. I am beyond thankful for the communities that have helped steer, support, and sustain me. Shout out to my family, my twin sister, Ma, and Dad; my work friends and colleagues, Dr. Julie Choe Kim, Nikita (my co-editor), Telli, Atossa, and Sophie; my advisors/dissertation committee, Dr. Roger Lancaster, Dr. Jessica Scarlatta, and Dr. Shannon Davis; and my writing crew, who I would not be here without, Xtina, Shauna, Ayondela, Sara, Sharrell, Pavithra, Jamal, and Michael. 

Nikita:  I entered my Master’s program almost immediately after ending undergrad in the middle of a pandemic. It has been a whirlwind, to say the least. I never would have imagined entering my graduate career in a fully online world, and it was never what I wanted, either. I had so much apprehension and anxiety about how online classes were going to go, and if I was even going to gain anything out of them. Surprisingly for me, I found that the vast majority of my virtual classes were extremely fulfilling, engaging, and probably pretty darn close to what I would’ve experienced in person. However, I was lucky – and I still am lucky – to have my role here in Graduate Student Life. An on-campus experience is a very important part of what I was looking for out of my graduate school experience, and while I didn’t end up receiving that through my classes, I found it in the University Life community. These relationships have been so meaningful and fulfilling. Furthermore, I got to prepare and interview for my clinical practicum/internship placement (a requirement of my master’s program), and am so excited to be starting my hands-on counseling experience this summer. I am grateful for the experience that I’ve had through this role, and that I was able to make the most out of this year. 

While we (Austin and Nikita) have had extremely different experiences in our graduate careers, both this past year and going forward, we have gotten to grow individually through this experience and also grow as a team. There were many ups and downs throughout the year, from adjusting historically in-person events to a fully virtual platform and hosting new virtual programs (like Thesis/Diss. Week); bringing back Graduate Outdoor Adventures in this COVID world; learning how to manage our office schedules around social distancing guidelines; finally getting our vaccines and beginning to plan for Fall 2021. Here’s to the 2020-2021 academic year: you will be remembered, but probably not missed …

Join us for ConGRADulations on May 21, 5-7pm, at the Van Metre Hall Plaza in Arlington to celebrate the end of this year and look ahead to 2021-2022! We at Graduate Student Life are looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Until next time,

Austin and Nikita


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