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UI Grad Success program adds satellite location

BY CORY PORTER | NOVEMBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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A little over a year after the creation of the University of Iowa Grad Success program, a satellite location has been opened on the Health Science Campus.

The satellite office, located in 368 Medical Research Center, opened in October, and the response so far has been enthusiastic, said Elizabeth Savelkoul, postdoctoral research scholar with UI Grad Success.

“Word of mouth has been very positive … and most importantly, the satellite site office has been busy serving students — since opening, the majority of days have had the maximum number of student appointments booked,” Savelkoul said.

Jennifer Teitle, an associate director of UI Grad Success, said student need led the group to open the satellite location.

“Over half our students are in STEM fields, and many come from the Health Science Campus,” Teitle said.

The program provides graduate students with a variety of help, but it falls under two areas — providing professional development, such as helping them identify and apply for a career, and then helping them apply for supplemental funding for research.

The UI Grad Success program is there to help these students figure out their options.

“Preparing for career and funding applications is like any other skill; it does not appear out of thin air but must be learned and practiced,” Savelkoul said. “Graduate students are independent learners, but it is crucial that they have the resources from which to develop those skills.”

Alex Schott, a postdoctoral research scholar with Grad Success, said he understands what it’s like to be a graduate student and how important this program is as a resource.

 “I didn’t feel like I had time to research careers or apply for grants — but I should have been doing both of those things,” Schott said. “We want to support students throughout the process and show them the value of these extremely important pieces of academic and professional development.”

Schott said the demand for this kind of help is there, pointing to the almost 600 individual appointments that have been made, as well as the workshops and presentations they’ve held.

Mark Sulzer, a Ph.D. candidate in the language, literacy, and culture program in the Department of Teaching and Learning, said he first went to get help from the program two and a half years ago after hearing about it from his peers, and since then, he’s returned nmerous times.

“I was looking for help in writing an application for a dissertation-year fellowship,” Sulzer said. “They were extremely helpful…I used their comments to revise my application, and I was much happier with the way it looked and much more confident when it came time to hit the ‘submit’ button.”

Edmarie Guzman-Velez, a graduate student studying psychology, said the program has helped her with a National Science Foundation fellowship application, as well as numerous essays for another application.

“They have always been extremely helpful and very professional,” Guzman-Velez said. “I truly notice improvements in my essays after they review them … I have also participated in activities that they have organized for undergraduate and graduate students and also found these very helpful.”

Daniel Tranel, an associate dean in the Carver College of Medicine for graduate and postdoctoral studies, said this addition is beneficial for students.

“[It’s] really a proactive step by the Graduate College and the College of Medicine to look after the career development of the biomedical graduate students,” he said.


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