A salute to graduate and professional students

04-03-2013

Michigan State enrolled some 10,000 graduate and graduate professional students this term. That includes medical, veterinary and law students. Pursuing specialized master’s and doctoral degrees in the arts and sciences, they bring highly valued intellect, commitment to advanced studies, and enthusiasm to our campus and community. 

Our faculty who mentor them appreciate graduate students as up-and-coming colleagues who are pursuing expertise in research, gaining advanced knowledge in their fields, and preparing for professional careers--be they aspiring doctors, lawyers, social workers, educators, or others.

So this week we join others across the country in observing Graduate & Professional Student Appreciation Week (GPSAW). Highlighting the contributions, impact, and value of graduate and professional students, the event is something that’s been growing on campuses since being established in 1993 by the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students.

Many graduate and professional students take on teaching assistantships to help support themselves financially and gather professional experience. We appreciate their dedication to the undergraduates who they teach as they prepare for their careers. We also appreciate their questions and challenges to the current state of knowledge and to established ways of doing things. For faculty and administrative staff who get to work with them, graduate and professional students keep us sharp and yet grounded in a changing world.

Many graduate students work as research assistants, and we appreciate their commitment to pursuing scholarship with integrity, work that might eventually help solve some of society’s most pressing problems. In or out of the academy, they are leaders of tomorrow.

In addition to providing an opportunity for us to recognize their contributions to campus, GPSAW also offers graduate and professional students opportunities to have some fun. The MSU Council of Graduate Students (COGS) is planning a series of activities for its membership over the next couple weeks, from a cooking demonstration and dining discounts to attending baseball games.

I’m very proud of our graduate and professional student group, which mixes scholarship and career development activities with local engagement through charity fund-raising events and service.

Nationwide, the Council of Graduate Schools counted 1.73 million students in post-graduate programs across the country in fall 2011, with more than 441,000 students enrolled for the first time in graduate certificate, education specialist, master’s, or doctoral programs. These graduate and professional students make great contributions to research universities such as Michigan State, and in so doing they become important sources of much of the innovation and knowledge discovery that keeps us competitive in an increasingly competitive world. They are well deserving of a week of recognition, and so we salute our Spartan graduate and professional students.

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