Lets take the time to be Thankful (Xicanita on the Move)

Thanksgiving has just passed an I hope all of you were able to stuff yourselves with delicious food and spend some time with family and friends. It is during this time in which I begin to reflect upon all the things I am grateful for. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, being in grad school has been one of the toughest experiences in my life: I am 2,000 miles away from my family and loved ones and I have had to quickly grow up in a spiritual, academic, and financial matter of the course of a year and a half. And of course…you always experience pain whenever you grow… But despite all of this Continue reading

Attend Events!

This post goes out to every undergraduate who has walked by a sign that says “interested in graduate school, stop in” and passed right by.Networking is everything. Well, not everything, but it will definitely give you a definitive edge.


Meet people, talk to students, and ask professors for help. Never shy away from an open door.

This is a simple concept to hear but a hard one to follow. The concept also gets a bit metaphorical. Just remember to always talk to new people. You are never sure who you are going to meet or how they are going to affect your life.

One of my favorite professors once said, “you should learn something new everyday, but you don’t know who or what it will come from.” Just being present is half the battle.

I am terrible at reaching out to professors, meeting new people, and getting outside of my comfort zone. I am not a huge advocate of pestering new faculty members, but I do know how important it is to be open to new experiences. If you don’t go outside you will escape the rain, but you will never see the sunshine.

So, the next time a student is coming to your campus to talk about their experience of getting into graduate school, the next time a professor is willing to stay after class to hear about your hopes and dreams, the next time you could go to a conference to hear professionals speak about their work, the next time there is a professional panel, or the next time you have the opportunity to learn something new, take it! Take it, take it, take it!

Grow, learn, and develop into a better person. Life is a journey. It’s not about the destination, it’s about how you got there. Take the road less traveled and be better for it.

Wrap It Up

First off, congratulations! If you are at this step in the application process you are further than most. Many students see how difficult it is to apply to graduate school, and if they were on the cusp, they will shy away from the task. This is not you, so you should feel proud.


That was the good news, here is the bad. Continue reading

I Recommend You Ask Early

Applications are daunting. They take a long time to complete and right when you’re at the finish line, the giant jigsaw puzzle you have been working on for months will still be missing a crucial piece out of your control: Recommendation Letters.

What Is a Letter?

Recommendation letters are like the icing on a cake for an application, they give insight into who you are from a perspective other than your own. Unfortunately, most letters are generic. Selection committees want to see that they are there, but, much like your test scores, they are only a piece of data for most. Still, they need to be there, and when these letters are sterling, they will help an applicant shine out above the rest.


My advice when asking for a letter is to ask EARLY! I am talking months early. Continue reading

Contacting students at your prospective graduate program: Any questions off-limits?

A current graduate student in a program you are considering can be your inside guide to what it is like to be in that research group. With them also being your potential colleague, you also do not want to start off on the wrong foot. Questions to avoid asking are gossip questions which include but are not limited to: who “has beef” with who, if someone is single or confirming/denying rumors of their advisor.  Also, remember graduate students are very busy so if there are questions that can be answered via the group website or the schools website, make sure to use these resources first before asking them.



Words of Encouragnment for the Halfway Point

As we are crossing the halfway mark of another semester, we are “knee-deep” in our studies.  We usually began stressing over assignments/project deadlines coming up, wondering if we’ll pass that class or get that much needed C, B or A in another one. In the midst of all of this, I want to encourage you with these quotes:

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” –Thomas A. Edison

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” –Vincent Van Gogh

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” –C.S. Lewis

Keep your head up, you’re more than halfway through!


Tips for Letters of Recommendation

There is a song in Spanish that says, reloj no marces las horas… clock, don’t mark the hours. This may be one of your thoughts as you sit on your couch on a Friday night to work on applications, only to realize that five hours have passed, and you have barely scratched the surface of your application.

Thankfully there is a section that you don’t have to worry to much about…you’re letters of recommendation…WRONG!!  Continue reading