Shoutout to your TA, your research mentor or your lab instructor – it’s Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week.
Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week was created in 1993 by the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. Although the initiative was created more than two decades ago, UNC just recently began celebrating it.
“We’ve known it’s been there for quite some time, but we have really gotten involved in the last two years in making sure there are activities going on all week and that it’s really promoted,” Graduate School Dean Steve Matson said.
This year’s activities include free coffee and donuts in the Pit, a mindfulness and mediation workshop with CAPS, a student-rights-themed Lunch and Learn, a free outdoor movie night and more.
Ben Lee, a second-year Ph.D. student in the School of Medicine helped organize an event through his involvement with Stigma Free Carolina, a UNC community campaign committed to reducing the stigma around mental health.
On Tuesday, Lee and other volunteers from Stigma Free Carolina and PhDepression hosted “Crafting Resilience,” an arts and crafts event dedicated to raising awareness about mental health conditions among graduate and professional students.
“A lot of students that we have talked to, they often go to the resources fair that happens alongside of orientation in the fall, but at such an early point in the academic year, they typically don't know what exactly they need,” Lee said. “So we thought that having a smaller-scale event like this closer to the finals period might be useful for students to come and take some time off, get some resources, talk to people, have some food and relax.”
Graduate student Paco Chen-López said events like these are the highlight of GPSAW.
“I think it’s very important, especially with the mental health sessions, with the appreciation events, we can unwind ourselves from our coursework, from our daily responsibilities and really relax a little bit,” Chen-López said.
Matson encouraged undergraduate students to get involved in the weeklong events.
“They can wear a button that says, ‘We love graduate students,’ they can write a note as part of the event to graduate students, they can talk to a graduate student in a class or a lab and tell them that they appreciate them being here and that they appreciate what they’re doing,” Matson said.
A full schedule of events can be found on the Graduate School’s website.
“In the past, I’ve come out for the cookies and the coffee and it’s just really cool that the University wants us to feel appreciated,” graduate student Susanna Harris said. “I think that a lot of the times grad students don’t (feel this way), and hopefully there's ways for us to get more grad students involved and actually enjoying these sort of things.”
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