The Graduate College

Winter 2010

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Grad Student Facebook Group
Sheena Kauppila

Jumping Right In

Sheena Kauppila, a brand new graduate student in fall 2009, wondered how to meet graduate students beyond her own department. With a core group, she created a way for NAU grad students to get together for fun and mutual support. The NAU Grad Students Group on Facebook has become even more of a resource than she envisioned. Thank you, Sheena!

Graduate school can be a daunting place to many incoming students. One hears stories of locked study carrels, tiny offices, hours and hours of grading, and studying that never ends. Often, you see the same people and rarely find time to escape from all the pressures of school. It can be necessary to find balance in life, escape campus, and meet new people just to maintain sanity. 

Facebook Group members at a recent happy hour

(Photo courtesy Erin Renee Wahl)
The NAU Grad Students group on Facebook was formed as a way for graduate students from all departments to meet each other in informal settings. Personally, it has been an amazing way to meet new friends. However, it has been more than this to many members. In addition to new friendships, current members also use the group to network on campus, ask for advice, and learn from each other. It is always nice to see familiar faces on campus. 

Andrew Fitzgerald, a participating PhD student, says, “The grad students in the group understand what you're going through, and there is such a variety of backgrounds and experiences present in the 100-plus person Facebook group that someone will be able to understand and empathize with whatever is stressing you out. There's no commitment or anything mandatory about the group; come to as many or as few events as you feel comfortable with. If you're stressed or lonely, consider this group to be a great step to being in a better place. I've made some great friends through the grad group and can't wait for the next happy hour!”

Our first happy hour in September had 10 attendees. Since then, we have had an event every week, with some having more than 20 attendees. In addition to happy-hour events, we have also attended the Flagstaff Art Walk each month and visited local monuments. We are now at 102 members! Although there is often a core group of people at events, each time we meet new people. 

We are always looking for new members to organize events or contribute ideas. Graduate students at NAU are a diverse group, and we would like to make sure that we represent everyone’s interests. This semester we will continue to plan events that will include hiking, game nights, volunteering in the community, and attending arts performances. We are always open to suggestions. 

The group is a great way to communicate with other graduate students.  People are welcome to inform us of events happening on campus and in the community. We will put them on Facebook to help raise awareness for the event and encourage attendance. Also, graduate students who are not on campus can use the group to organize events and communicate with others in their area as well. We also have had communication with prospective graduate students who were looking for information on their programs and wanted input from current students. 

As the group grows, I see us being able to accomplish more. With more members we will be able to plan fundraising events and get more involved on campus and in Flagstaff. This group is created and maintained by members; we will change and grow with what the membership wants. Please join NAU Grad Students on Facebook or e-mail sak225@nau.edu for more information about the group.

—Sheena Kauppila, Academic Transition Programs Graduate Assistant and M.Ed. student in Counseling, Student Affairs