GradFest 2016This year’s New Graduate Student Orientation (NGSO) drew the largest attendance in recent history, welcoming more than 1,100 new graduate and professional students over the course of the day.

The event kicked off with a Welcome Session that was attended by over 700 students and simulcast in two lecture halls. The program included remarks from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Na’ilah Nasir, Dean of the Graduate Division Fiona Doyle, and Graduate Assembly President Iman Sylvain. Professor Kinch Hoekstra also welcomed the new students in his keynote address.

The day featured over 20 unique workshops and presentations, with some repeated in multiple sessions. Presenters covered a variety of topics, from accessing campus resources, to developing networks and professional skills, to getting involved in social justice and student activism.

Grad FestLunch was provided for attendees, and offered a break during a busy day. Students could use the opportunity to mingle and network with their fellow students, or take a brief tour of Eshleman Hall and the ASUC Student Union. “One of the goals of NGSO is not just to provide resources and information, but to allow students opportunities to build relationships with other students that they might not necessarily meet otherwise,” explained Ellen Gobler, Senior Public Events Manager in the Graduate Division.

This year, NGSO was followed by GradFest — a collaborative student activities and campus resource fair that was tailored for graduate students and organized by partners in the LEAD Center, Graduate Division, and the Graduate Assembly. The event brought together over 300 students with 35 departments and graduate student organizations, and ended with a social happy hour off-campus. “The planning committee wanted to do something special for graduate students, because they are a huge part of this university and should know what’s available to them,” said Larissa Charnsangavej, Graduate Student Life Coordinator. “Overall, we were really pleased with this pilot run and hope to continue and maybe expand the event in the future.”