Virginia Tech’s 21st Graduate Education Week, scheduled for March 22-26, sports a theme that reflects both a commitment to community and a recognition of how different life has been for the past year: Connect.

“This year we want to highlight the importance of connections, because we have all learned in the past 12 months, under the pandemic-imposed restrictions, just how much we miss being able to connect with one another, especially in informal, unscheduled, unexpected ways,” said Graduate School Assistant Dean and Director of Student Services Monika Gibson.

Information sessions, trivia, and award winners

In nonpandemic times, Graduate Education Week offers an array of in-person events and activities at the Graduate Life Center, celebrating graduate students and programs. Last year would have been the 20th anniversary of Graduate Education Week with events including alumni panels and presentations, but COVID-19 forced organizers to move as much as possible online and to cancel much-anticipated events like the awards dinner and the Friday barbecue. This year’s activities are all virtual and there will be no banquet or barbecue, but that has not stopped Gibson and her team from creating a week full of events for students, staff, and faculty.

“We know that everyone is zoomed out, tired, and ready for something different,” Gibson said. “So we are offering a few serious and some lighthearted opportunities for students to connect with one another, with us in the Graduate School, and with graduate alumni, whether to learn something new, share an insight, or just relax and laugh for a minute.”  

The week will include traditional favorite elements, such as the graduate student art and photography contest. A new week-long element is a trivia game people can play on social media. Seminars include networking tips for introverts, maintaining connections while we isolate, an iThenticate training session, and more. One of the highlights will be a panel discussion with alumni on Friday at noon. The schedule and information about the trivia games can be found on the Graduate Education Week webpage.

Another important event of the week is the opportunity to honor award-winning graduate students. This year, the Graduate School will share the names of the winners throughout the week in the VT Daily, including the outstanding faculty mentors from each college.

Student research symposium carries on

The Graduate Student Assembly Research Symposium traditionally occurs on Wednesday of the week, filling the Graduate Life Center’s multipurpose room and meeting rooms, but this year it, too, will be virtual. GSA Director of Programs Martina Svyantek said this year’s symposium them is “Research Carries on.” Students will present their research on Zoom on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 3-7 p.m., either by recorded presentation or a synchronous live session. The symposium will include an online panel discussion featuring Alex Haagaard, Liz Jackson, and Lydia X. Z. Brown at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24, followed a question-and-answer session.

“Our panel is going to dig into that idea from a Disability Justice perspective: What does it mean to carry on in these times? What does carrying on imply?" Svyantek said. “We are exploring such questions as: Are we supposed to isolate ourselves, focusing on ‘the work’ and ignoring everything happening on local, national, and global scales? What happens if we aren’t carrying on?”

Visit the symposium website for information on registering for the panel discussion.