Starting graduate school is nerve-wracking, you are under both personal and professional pressure to succeed and to be “the best”. If you are at Texas A&M University for graduate school, you are clearly doing something right and were selected for a reason- do not doubt yourself of that! This school is likely bigger than you undergraduate university, I promise you that there are advantages to it being a big school. Most importantly, Texas A&M University provides ample opportunities for involvement, leadership, research, and teaching. Texas A&M provides you the platform and ability to ask BIG questions in your field, an opportunity unlike many others. This university is unlike any other, as you have likely heard a famous quote about A&M "From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can't explain it."
This blog post is written to help instill confidence in your decision and to show a few
of many opportunities how you can make your graduate experience exceptional. Primarily, you are in graduate school for research, this is a Tier 1 research institution (>$100 million in research grants/annually). We have some of the most prominent leaders in the field across many departments on campus, use this to your advantage. My research tip is to present your research at each and every potential opportunity that opens. Both OGAPS and GPSC offer travel awards to present your research, apply! Next, I want to discuss the combination of leadership and involvement. There are over 1,000 student organizations at Texas A&M University (https://stuactonline.tamu.edu/
). Yes, many of them are undergraduate focused; however, more graduate organizations are emerging! You may have similar and/or varied interest in hobbies/professional organizations than your lab mates and that is okay
. Seek out an organization (or several) and attend at least one event/meeting to see if it may be a good fit for you. The more involved you get at Texas A&M University, the more doors that continue to open for you- ask any of the most highly involved graduate students at A&M (To name a few: Jaskirat Singh, Kevin Andrews, Marisa Biondi, Paul Taele, Jiniva Serrano). While being involved may look good on your CV, become the leader
of a group, no matter the size. Texas A&M University core values emphasizes Leadership, which is one opportunity that you do not want to pass by while you are here. Last but not least important that I want to discuss is the opportunities to teach at A&M. Within your department there may be Teaching Assistantships (TA), which serve as an introduction to teaching in my opinion. Beyond being a TA, the group “Academy for Future Faculty” (http://cte.tamu.edu/Graduate-Student-Support/Academy-of-Future-Faculty/Certificate-Program
) has a remarkable teaching certificate that allows you to perfect your CV, develop a teaching philosophy and learn about classroom management. Many of your fellow peers also teach part-time at Blinn Community College, a great way to put your knowledge to the test.
To sum, I want to emphasize there are limitless opportunities for all of us
graduate students at Texas A&M University, don’t pass them up. I challenge you to get involved, be a leader and push yourself- you are a Texas A&M Fightin’ Texas Aggie.
Thanks and Gig’em,
Kristen Hicks MS, RD, LD, PhD Candidate | Nutrition and Food Science
is a PhD Candidate and Registered Dietitian in BCS who aspires to improve the health of all Americans.