Graduate school can be daunting, especially when you’re trying to make real connections with your peers and professors while learning as much as you can, but the University of North Florida English Graduate Organization can help you. to help. EGO is an organization that seeks to help graduate students connect and create a sense of community during this new chapter in their lives.
Rosie Parra, Vice President of EGO, joined UNF in January 2021 for the English Graduate Program. She heard about a Zoom meeting for students and went out on a branch and joined. Through this first encounter, she was able to meet many of her classmates and begin to form bonds that would sustain her continuously throughout her time in the program.
“I believe the college environment, both undergraduate and graduate, is all about networking with students and faculty, and I feel like it was a good place to build relationships, so now here I am a year later with so many friends in the program,” Parra said.
EGO hosts Friday night Zoom meetings for any returning members or new students looking for a starting point. At their meetings, they discuss class recommendations, accomplishments, worries, or any upcoming projects or events. Blair Bassett, the current president of EGO, commented on how the nature of the pandemic has affected the classroom environment by putting up barriers between students through social distancing and masks.
During these Zoom meetings, Bassett explained, students have the opportunity to speak up and share observations that no one will judge them for.
Bassett emphasized the importance of taking advantage of this free organization that is there to guide students around the world after college. She explained how the development of networking skills and abilities can be used in the post-graduation world, as sometimes students can struggle to conceptualize life after college.
Additionally, Bassett strongly emphasized how the incredible support and contributions of faculty and department have shaped EGO and the program as a whole.
“UNF faculty, like Dr. Lieberman and Dr. Beasley, encourage student engagement in a way that will positively affect them upon graduation… None of this could be awarded to EGO without the type of assistance that was offered,” she said.
Through the expectations of the graduate organization, EGO attends national conferences alongside each university. Last spring, four students participated, including Parra and Bassett, who both presented academic papers, while two others presented creative papers.
Finally, for all students currently enrolled in the graduate program or those planning to do so, Parra and Bassett offer some insight. They encourage these students to use this organization designed to help them succeed and overcome the anxieties that most graduate students experience.
“What advice would I give? Think long and hard. What was that instinctive thing that hit you as a kid that made you think “that’s what I like”? Bassett shared.
For Bassett, it was reading that inspired her. From an early age, she knew her purpose, and the purpose of EGO is to solidify and affirm students’ purpose, reminding them that they belong here.
Parra concluded that during these two years of the program, it is nice to have this emotional support from friends and peers and incoming students should know that EGO is there for them.
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