Beginning Year Two

It was a fantastic summer. Khai and I gallivanted around the US visiting friends and family, my brother was married in Portland to a wonderful woman, Emily, and I was able to work on some exciting academic projects. Alas, summer is ending and year two of my doctoral studies has begun.


Here I am with some of my classmates and friends at GW.

Photo Credit: Dollaya Hemmapattawe

As a Graduate Assistant (GA) in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at GW, I took part in our beginning of the year orientation. Those of us who have a year or more under our belts were asked to give advice to incoming GAs. One memorable piece of advice from my first year as a GA that came up again this year was to “Remember to put on pants.” A senior GA had told us the year before that just because GAs work flexible hours and might not need to leave the house, it is still important to wake up, get ready for the day, and put on pants.

We went around the room and each gave a few pieces of advice. There was a “saturation in the data” after about four people but I was able to share these tidbits of advice as a GA this past year:

  1. Be flexible. Depending on your adviser, things may not be clear cut. The tasks and responsibilities you’re asked to carry out may not fit neatly into your schedule, and they may require you to move some things around, especially when you have a journal/conference deadline. Personal boundaries are important but sometimes the job requires some extra flexibility.
  2. Be organized. We have to do year-end reports so have your template up and fill it out as you go. This way you won’t have to recall all the things you did this year when the time comes in the spring.
  3. Do things the way your adviser wants them done. If you’re a GA in a doctoral program you probably have figured out an effective system for getting things done. That’s great. Your adviser may have a different way of doing things. Regardless of how you think something should be done, if your adviser insists it’s done one way, do it that way.

I am so grateful for the wonderful year I had with Dr. Maria Cseh. Sadly, she’s on sabbatical this year. The flip side is I get to split my time with two new faculty members this year – Dr. Shaista Khilji and Dr. Neal Chalofsky. More on that later. Until then, here’s to marvelous beginnings!


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