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A behind the scenes look at the graduate experience at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Caitlin

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  • Meet the 2017-2018 SAGE Board Members

    Students Advising on Graduate Education (SAGE) is a student advisory board and leadership opportunity for graduate students at Illinois that fosters active engagement with Graduate College programs and initiatives. SAGE board members enrich graduate student community, build leadership and administrative skills, and strengthen Graduate College services and programs.

    This board contributes to the graduate student community at Illinois by providing varied perspectives that enhance the academic, professional, and social experience of graduate students at the university and collaborating with Graduate College staff on a project related to a program, initiative, or the broader goals of the college.

    As we embark on a new academic year, we are excited to introduce our 2017 – 2018 SAGE board!

  • Meet Our Fellows: Ford Fellows on Campus

    To increase diversity in higher education, the Ford Foundation offers predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral fellowships. The goal is three-fold – increasing university’s ethnic and racial diversity, maximizing the educational benefits of diversity, and increasing the number of professors who use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

    We talked to three University of Illinois graduate students from across campus who received a Ford Fellowship to learn more about the program.

  • Giving Names to the Dead: Building the Philippines' First Skeletal Reference Collection

    Matthew Go, PhD student in Anthropology, spots it tucked into the foundation of a building on the grounds of a cemetery in Manila. An old rice sack, bulging in place and covered in dirt and grime, partially decomposing. Inside, a jumbled collection of bones showing their age and exposure to the elements.

    Matt and fellow Illinois Anthropology PhD student, Amanda Lee, spent last summer in Manila creating the world’s first reference collection comprised exclusively of contemporary Filipino skeletons. Their salvage archaeology work and the new collection, housed at the University of the Philippines Diliman, may potentially help identify victims of criminal cases, mass disasters, mass fatality events, and mass graves throughout Southeast Asia.

  • Robin Holland: On Taking Chances

    Robin Holland, dual degree candidate in Pathobiology and Veterinary Medicine, doesn’t hesitate to throw her hat in the ring when contests and opportunities present themselves. Robin was awarded People’s Choice at the inaugural Research Live! competition last fall and took home first place in Image of Research the preceding spring.

    As if that weren’t impressive enough, Robin was awarded a prestigious NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for individuals pursuing dual-doctoral degrees, both a PhD and an MD, DVM, or other medical doctoral degree. This award was created to increase the pool of highly trained clinician-scientists in the biomedical research workforce.

    We sat down with Robin to pick her brain about her career, academic contests, and getting involved. Read on for the interview.

  • Stuck in a Rut: Exploring an Outside Interest Can Shape your Grad School Experience

    “I think a common experience for grad students, particularly at major research institutions, is the single-minded focus on producing excellent research. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision and lose track of what you are excited or passionate about. And, it’s easy to get caught up in a pattern of obsessing about whether you’re smart enough or ‘good’ enough.” Kaye Usry, PhD candidate in Political Science, said. “I was feeling a lot of pressure to meet these expectations that, when it came down to it, I was really setting for myself. It wasn't healthy or good for me.” It was at that point that Kaye started exploring ways to engage with the community and issues that were important to her, outside of her research.

  • Learn a New Skill (or a New Language!) for Free this Summer

    Summer “Break” can be a definite misnomer when you are a grad student. You may not be sitting in class or teaching section, but experiments, research, and writing don’t stop just because the academic year has come to a close. Even though you’re still busy, the change of schedule for summer can make it a great time to develop skills you need to be successful in graduate school. Whether you’re trying to master an old skill or need to pick up programming/conversational French/business-plan-writing or any of hundreds of other skills you can think of – the university has free and/or low-cost tools to help you get the job done. Read on for some of the services you should take advantage of before school’s back in session.

  • Marrying Math and Art through Outreach

    When Michelle Delcourt was presented with the choice between math or art summer programs in high school, she knew that by choosing mathematics, she’d never leave art far behind. “For me, math is a very creative process,” she said. “Math and art are very similar, the process of doing research in doing mathematics is similar to the way that I approach making a painting or seeing a piece of artwork.”

    Now, the 5th year PhD candidate and winner of this year’s Graduate Student Leadership Award uses her love of math and art to engage young girls and underrepresented minority students in math through community outreach programs. She hopes that her approach could help attract students who might not otherwise choose mathematics.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Lauren Hagler, Illinois Sloan Scholar

    Lauren Hagler fell in love with Chemistry during her first general chemistry class at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. The lab, which was set up like a fictional crime scene, was designed to provide hands-on opportunities to learn different lab techniques, the results of which lead students to a fictional suspect. Hagler loved the science, but not the crime – during her undergraduate career she quickly decided she’d rather solve medical queries than criminal ones.

    Fast-forward to the summer of 2015 and she officially embarked on her journey to do just that as a first year PhD candidate in chemistry and one of six Sloan Scholars at the University of Illinois.

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of three institutions awarded a grant by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's expanded Minority Ph.D. Program to support underrepresented minority doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

  • Teaching (and Learning) Beyond the Classroom

    For many Illinois graduate students, the classroom is just one avenue for teaching and learning. We asked three graduate students to reflect on their experiences working with programs that served middle school, high school, and incoming graduate students. Although their research interests and programs differ, they shared a common outcome. Through mentoring, they’d learned as much as they taught.  They shared their thoughts with Grad Life.

  • Welcome to Grad Life, a New Blog about the Illinois Graduate Experience

    Welcome to Grad Life. With over 10,000 graduate students on the Urbana Campus, there are as many narratives to the University of Illinois Grad experience as there are individuals.  Our grads hail from all corners of the world and are researching, studying, and teaching to try to solve some of the toughest problems of our time. Whether you’re attending classes in person or online, pursuing a Master’s degree or a PhD - this is a place to share and shape your graduate school experience.