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Tips for Finding Housing in Berkeley

One of the first challenges facing new Cal students is finding a place to call home, whether on- or off-campus. Cal Housing has some tips and suggestions that can help with your search.

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Join the Graduate Division as we #GoBigforGrads during this year’s Big Give! 

On Thursday, March 11, UC Berkeley’s annual 24-hour fundraising campaign kicks off and we could use your help. Big Give, designed to celebrate all that makes Berkeley special, provides thousands of alumni, current students, parents, faculty, staff, and friends an opportunity to show some school spirit and support Cal for years to come.

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15 Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors Receive Teaching Effectiveness Award

Previously announced this May, 374 Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) were recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (OGSI) Award, and were recognized for their exemplary teaching by the Graduate Division’s GSI Teaching & Resource Center. For the full list of the award recipients, visit this link.  In addition to being acknowledged by the award itself, OGSIs are invited to submit essays for a second award offered by the GSI Center, the Teaching Effectiveness Award. Each one-page essay addresses a problem the GSI had in teaching, the pedagogical solution the GSI devised to address the problem, and the means by which they assessed the effectiveness of the solution. This year, 16 essays were selected for the award. As in past years, this year’s winning essays will be published on the GSI Center’s website, so that the teaching strategies can be adapted for use by other GSIs. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, both the Outstanding GSI Award and Teaching Effectiveness Award Ceremonies were cancelled. Instead, departments were asked to find alternative ways to congratulate these outstanding instructors. Teaching in Berkeley’s academic departments as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) is an invaluable professional development opportunity. Being recognized as one of the University’s finest is an outstanding achievement. “Whether or not a GSI wins the TEA award, those who write the essays are contributing to their professional development by identifying significant problems encountered in teaching and learning, designing activities to address those problems, and assessing whether student learning was affected by the activities,” according to Linda von Hoene, Assistant Dean for Professional Development and Director of the GSI Teaching & Resource Center. “This type of reflection is the hallmark of outstanding teachers. And the beauty is that these skills of problem solving and assessment are transferable to other professions as well.” The following is a full list of this year’s recipients:  Jeremy Adams, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Mapping the Math: Using Concept Maps to Learn Controls Theory Jakob Dahl, Chemistry, Promoting Understanding from Experiments by Visualizing Results in an Introductory Organic Chemistry Lab Natalia Duong, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, Normalizing Access and Accommodation in Classrooms**Author has requested essay not to be published Casey Finnerty, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Teaching Students to Think Creatively about Problems, not just Answer Them Jade Fostvedt, Chemistry, The Student Becomes the Master: Student-Led Problem Solving in “Flipped” Office Hours Holly Gildea, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, Reframing Failure: Teaching Iterative Troubleshooting over Results in Laboratory Science Natalie Graham, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Putting Global Patterns in Perspective with Experiential Interdisciplinary Learning  Samuel Kieke, Sociology, Social Theory as Puzzle: Piecing Together Conceptual Definitions Haefa Mansour, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Revolutionizing Classroom Problem-Solving to Mimic the Real World Maryam Moeini Meybodi, Graduate School of Education, Task-Based Language Games: A Solution to Incorporation of Culture in Grammar Lessons Seiya Ono, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Lowering the Entry Barrier to Build Inclusive Lab Spaces Kate Pennington, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Inviting Students In: Improving Diversity by Increasing Participation Andrew Shi, Mathematics, Conquering the Top 10 Algorithms of the 20th Century Jonas Teupert, German, Collaborative Learning in Times of Remote Instruction Carly Trachtman, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Understanding Social Welfare Comparisons without Math Anxiety Please join us in congratulating them!   About the Author: Ashvini Malshe is a recent graduate of the Graduate School of Journalism, and a Professional Development Liaison with the Graduate Division.

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Welcome to the Graduate Division, Dr. Denzil Streete

I am extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Denzil Streete to the Graduate Division as our new Chief of Staff & Assistant Dean for Diversity, beginning July 27th. Denzil joins Berkeley from Yale University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where he was Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Development and Diversity. Among his many efforts to recruit and retain minoritized students in graduate programs, Denzil initiated web-based approaches including the Bouchet Bootcamp to facilitate the graduate application process for minoritized students around the country. He also served on the Executive Committee of The Leadership Alliance, a consortium of institutions which seek to develop underrepresented students into outstanding leaders and role models in academia, business and the public sector. In his new role, Denzil and I will work closely with one another and he will serve as senior advisor on specific priorities such as graduate diversity, campus climate, professional development, communications and overall support for the graduate student community. In addition, he will direct the Office of Graduate Diversity, providing leadership and vision toward creating a more diverse and inclusive campus climate for all our graduate students. Originally from Morvant, Trinidad and Tobago, Denzil moved to the USA to pursue a college education. He graduated with honors from St Francis College, Brooklyn, NY, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. He earned his Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education, with a specialization in the Economics of Education, from Teachers College, Columbia University. With research interests including access and equity in higher education, the ‘Free College Movement’ and minoritized males in higher education, Denzil brings exceptional experience to his new role at Berkeley. He is looking forward with excitement to this new chapter at Cal’s Graduate Division. On the personal side, he’ll enrich our Graduate Division community with his love of soccer and reading — he’s finished 34 books already this year. I would like to thank Andrea Rex, who has been acting as Interim Chief of Staff, for her exceptional service. Her operational expertise and able leadership has been key to my successful transition into this role. Andrea will remain in her role as Assistant Dean for Student Services and will serve as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Graduate Division through the 2020-21 academic year. Welcome, Denzil, to Berkeley and to the Graduate Division.

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Apply Today (May 15) for CARES Act or Dream Act Funds — Other Funds Also Available

CARES Act and Dream Act Funds Today is the last day for graduate students to apply for CARES Act or Dream Act COVID-19 relief funding. Our goal is to maximize all available sources of relief funding to award as many eligible students as possible, as quickly as possible. Our fellowships office created a helpful Tips and FAQ document to assist students with filing a FAFSA. If you are not eligible for either of these funds, other financial resources are available to you.  CARES Act Funds All graduate students should have received an email on May 3, 2020 announcing how to apply for the direct-to-student CARES Act funding the campus received, $4 million of which is allocated to graduate students. This funding will be given out as grants to graduate students most in need. If you are Title IV eligible, please complete a FAFSA by today, May 15, 2020 in order to be considered for this funding. If you have already filed a FAFSA in 2019-20 or 2020-21, you do not need to take additional action. Filing a FAFSA does not guarantee funding. If you have questions, contact Cal Student Center by calling 510-664-9181, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time. Dream Act Funds Students who are eligible for financial aid under the California Dream Act must file a 2020-21 California Dream Act Application (CADAA) if they did not fill out a CADAA for 2019-20. The campus is committed to providing students eligible for financial aid under the California Dream Act with equivalent funding from the Student Emergency Fund. The deadline to file a CADAA for funding consideration is today, May 15, 2020.  COVID-19 Relief Funds UC Berkeley has streamlined its student emergency aid process and launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund website to provide assistance with housing, food, medical/health, and technology needs for the Spring 2020 term. All students — including undergraduate, graduate, international, and undocumented students — are eligible to receive funding. Visit the COVID-19 Relief Fund website (log in with your Berkeley email) to learn about the application options.   These funds are limited and campus will not be able to meet the needs of every student that applies.

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Berkeley International Office Reminders and COVID Updates

The Berkeley International Office would like to share some modified end-of-semester reminders, as well as answers to some frequently asked questions regarding current or prospective international students. BIO staff have been working closely with Graduate Student Affairs Officers to communicate ongoing updates and information. For one-on-one advising with a BIO advisor, sign in to BIO’s virtual waiting room. For non-urgent issues, email internationaloffice@berkeley.edu. Virtual Advising Schedule: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. Join the waiting room between 10-11 a.m. for morning advising and 1-3 p.m. for afternoon advising. (Note: although the Zoom meeting may appear “open” after these cutoff times, we can only guarantee that an advisor will meet with you if you entered the waiting room by the posted cutoff time. Students entering the waiting room after the cutoff times may be seen if advisor availability allows.) Access Instructions: Web access: Join Zoom meeting using this link OR Phone access: call +1 669-900-6833 And enter Meeting ID code: 767-091-341 # When asked for your Participant ID, select # Visit BIOs COVID-19 Updates and FAQ page for answers to frequently asked questions. F-1/J-1 visa rules are still in effect (with some special accommodations for remote instruction). Students can review their Top 10 Rules for Maintaining Status as well as the F-1/J-1 section of the FAQ page.

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Staff Profile: Marshall Glaze Q&A

Marshall Glaze recently started in the Graduate Division as the Content and Social Media Manager. Learn about his path to Berkeley and what he’s looking forward to in his first six months.

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I-House Story: The World Is My Family

In my time at International House, I have learned more about perspective, policy, geopolitics, culture, economics, climate change, engineering, and language than in any other span of time.

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Staff Highlight: Sarah Acosta Q&A

Read about about Sarah’s dedication to fostering an open and supportive community for all graduate students, her journey to Cal, and why she can’t leave this time.

Marcia Gee Riley and Zackary Hull

Meet the Berkeley Ombuds

I sat down with Marcia Gee Riley and Zackary Hull to discuss the purpose of the Ombuds Office, the highs and lows of their roles, and how graduate students can utilize the office to discuss concerns, learn about resources, or discover new methods for dealing with personal or professional conflicts. What does a university ombudsperson do? MGR: We are a resource for undergrads, grads and postdocs facing difficult situations. We help visitors talk through their stories, understand what types of resolutions or outcomes are available to them, and offer as many options to pursue those resolutions as possible.  That’s our main objective — to be a confidential, neutral, and informal space for our visitors to be able to talk through and understand what options are available to them. This includes other resources, coaching, and clarification around policies and procedures (as you know, there are many on our campus), and avenues to others spaces, because we don’t profess to be the be-all and end-all place, either. On the flip side, we do collect data and demographics in a non-identifiable way so that university leaders can see what types of issues people are bringing to our office. We do want to be able to inform senior leaders and decision makers about how they can create positive change for students and other visitors. ZH: That’s a very thorough explanation of what our office does. In short, it’s a place for students to feel heard, regardless of the issues they’re facing. Marcia mentioned “difficult situations.” Often, that’s why people come to our office, but difficult is relative.  It doesn’t have to rise to a level of senior leadership on this campus. It can be something difficult they’re going through with a peer on campus. There’s no one category of issue that we listen to. We’re here to listen to whatever issue students bring to us. MGR: Zac brought up a good point too, because we’re sometimes a place where something doesn’t reach the threshold of being a formal complaint or policy violation, but the person is still seeking some sort of resolution or avenue for action or healing. We can be passive or active in terms of our engagement. It’s really up to the visitor. How do your roles differ? ZH: Simply, they differ in terms of experience and inexperience. Marcia is the director of the office, has been working as an Ombudsperson for the past 11-12 years, and has been a UC Berkeley employee for more than 30 years. So Marcia is the experienced professional here. I was hired in April, so I’m new to this office and new to this kind of work.  MGR: And already doing an awesome job. That’s on the record. Zac is the first point of contact for our office. As you noticed when you walked in the door, we’re not exactly a drop-in sort of space. People are referred to us by peers, staff, faculty — or they find us through our website. We don’t use email; we don’t do drop-in visits; so visitors need to call in to do an initial inquiry and make an appointment, if desired.  Zac does a great job of clarifying for people what it is that we actually do. We don’t really turn people away, ever, for the most part, but he does prepare people to help them understand what we do, so that their expectations are clear. When people call for appointments, they fill out a non-identifiable intake form. We collect this non-identifiable data in order to paint a picture of the challenges that students are facing on this campus, and to learn about how we can make a difference.  What are the highlights of your job and what are the challenges? ZH: The highlights for me are when visitors appreciate that they were able to say so much and not be interrupted, stopped or questioned. I have so many people say, “Thanks for listening. I just had to get that off my chest.” That’s a service where I don’t do anything other than just listen. That’s not entirely what Ombuds professionals do, but that’s a big part of it. Another highlight is seeing our efforts ultimately help our visitors.  The challenges are feeling heartbroken for students that are experiencing hardships or difficulties. On top of that, since we are an impartial office and not an advocacy office, we can’t and don’t argue for specific outcomes, even if the outcome seems like the moral or just thing. That’s not our role. Our role is to be impartial and neutral when dealing with individual cases. MGR: The gratifying moments are at the end of the appointment when someone says, “I’m so glad that you’re here. I had no idea what an Ombuds was. I wish more students actually knew that this existed because it’s so helpful.” Empowering people to resolve their own issues feels really good.  One of the other great things about the job is that every case is different and I’m never bored. I still learn something about this campus every day because often cases involve investigating some new facet of a program, resource, or policy.  On the flip side, sometimes we never know what happens. We’re not a place of record or report. We don’t keep any files. People are not obligated to tell us what happens in terms of whether they resolve their matter or whether they do anything.  Is there anything else you’d like graduate students to know about the Ombuds Office? ZH: I want to make it clear that we’re a confidential resource. Any visitor that comes to the Ombuds Office or contacts the office — there’s no data that links back to that person. The only way anyone would know that a visitor contacted our office is if the visitors themselves gave permission for us to share it.  MGR: We’re one of the very few staff on campus who are not mandated reporters or responsible employees in cases of sexual assault or harassment. …

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Berkeley Journalism’s Annual Excellence Awards Announced

Each year, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism convenes representatives of the local journalism community to decide whom they want to single out for outstanding work that exemplifies what the school most values.

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Rethinking the Graduate Student ‘Culture of Busyness’

When you ask a fellow graduate student how they’ve been, how often do you get one of these responses: “It’s been crazy busy!” “I pulled three all-nighters this week.” “I was in lab until 4 a.m.” The graduate school experience can be a prime example of hustle culture — a place full of smart, ambitious people each trying to optimize their way through their degree to get to where they’re going next, or in many cases, just make ends meet. There is an unspoken rule that in order to be successful, you have to be putting in the work, and the best way to show that is by putting in long hours. This mindset can actually lead to many negative impacts, including lost productivity, burnout, imposter syndrome, and feelings of intense anxiety and guilt about being unproductive. The reality, however, is that we all have individual circumstances that determine how much we’re able to dedicate to any project or life circumstance at any given time. What’s important is to define what your priorities and goals are, establish realistic (and forgiving) timelines, and then make sure you’re using the strategies that work for you to achieve them. Be on the lookout for burnout, and acknowledge the feelings. Be open to talking about it with your peers and and raise awareness. Give yourself permission to do something for fun (or nothing at all!). Understand your own goals, keeping in mind external influences and your internal values. Consider short-term gains and long-term health. Make room for boredom. We need boredom to be creative – so if you find yourself stuck on a particularly difficult problem, don’t be afraid to take a break and harness subconscious thought. Go for a walk, take a shower, or go get some coffee. Don’t underestimate your own resilience. We have limited capacity to spend on a world of projects and priorities. Trust yourself enough to know that you will make the most of whatever you choose to spend your time and effort on.