“We threw a party and everyone came!” 

Lisa Garcia Bedolla

Graduate students in Sproul Plaza

August 26th was a reason to celebrate. With the Berkeley campus now open, the Graduate Division had the opportunity once again to experience the excitement of welcoming our incoming graduate students in person. Given that last year’s cohort of new graduate students had been denied the on-campus experience because of the pandemic, we wanted to ensure they didn’t miss out on the fun and the opportunity to celebrate together.

Oski Bear and studentSo, this fall, the Graduate Division launched the New Graduate Student Orientation with a lively event on the steps of Sproul Hall including both the 2020 cohort and 2021 newly admitted students. The event included an open house in our offices on the third and fourth floors of Sproul Hall where students took advantage of open office hours with Dean Lisa García Bedolla and met with Graduate Division staff. Afterward, they enjoyed an informal meet and greet with music by DJ Beatific, single-serve food items, and lots of Graduate Division swag.

In a campus first, all 1,500 graduate students that signed up showed up — and brought friends! The line to enter stretched from Sproul Hall to Doe Library. About 30 minutes in, we had run out of paper bracelets to identify the students and the food was long gone. And yet, graduate students patiently waited in line for the opportunity to join their peers.

One of the most important aspects that leads to success in graduate school is establishing a strong sense of community. As students talked, laughed, took pictures with special guest, Oski, and got to know their fellow incoming peers from programs across campus, we were excited to witness vibrant connections being made. After the isolation of the long pandemic months, it was a heady chance for in-person contact and community-building that is such an intrinsic part of the Berkeley experience.

Students sitting on lawn