Chicago … a metropolis only a short drive away!

For those who enjoy large, bustling cities, Chicago is only a short drive away.  On a recent trip to the windy city, only over three hours drive from Bloomington, I enjoyed a dinner, theatre, shopping, and cultural! Firstly, I enjoyed dinner at Russian Tea Time before laughing out of my seat watching The Book of Morman at the Bank of America Theatre around the corner.  After a wonderful night of music and food, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile has all the shopping to offer plus the Christmas spirit at the ice-skating rink in Millennium Park.  Thank goodness the weather wasn’t too cold, windy, or snowy … Chicago can be brutal with all three.  My day was also accompanied with culture with a dim sum lunch in Chinatown and tacos in La Villita.  With only a short drive from Bloomington, Chicago offers a change of pace to students who are looking for a weekend away.  Don’t forget to stop by near by Indianapolis along the way!

The metropolis of Bloomington, IN

If you want to go to a graduate school with culture, don’t look any further.  Bloomington may be a small college town, but it is a cultural metropolis.  The IU Auditorium has a myriad of shows from music and plays to Broadway musicals.  This year, the IU Auditorium is showing The Cleveland Orchestra, Peter Pan, Traces, Dream Girls, and more.  They have a selection that will please anyone’s distinct tastes.

Don’t forget that the IU Jacobs School of Music is one of the best in the world, and its students and faculty perform at the IU Musical Arts Center.  Enjoy ballet, recitals, and music performances of the New York Met quality in your backyard in Bloomington.

The IU Cinema, a newly restored theatre, offers movie screenings from the classics to stunning documentaries.  Moreover, festivals help bridge the university life to the community.  One festival, the Lotus festival, engages the university community and attracts participants from other cities and states.

If you want culture, you have come to the right place!

Faculty mentors are critical to success in grad school

Mentorship is important to being successful in all that we do.  It is no different in graduate school.  It is important to find good and compatible faculty mentors to help you succeed and progress through graduate school.  I have been very fortunate.  Both of my mentors have been very involved in my academic work and development to enter the professoriate.  I have been able to collaborate on scholarly research with my professors, and I have been introduced to academic and scholarly conferences through them also.  While attending a conference where I presented, my professor was very gracious to introduce me to other colleagues, get me involved in the association’s activities, and she helped me feel welcome. These activities and opportunities have helped me get closer to the professoriate, and I attribute it to my faculty mentors!

Your academic family: to colleagues in your department to those you meet at conferences … it’s a small world

It may seem like a big world out there; besides your colleagues that you see and work with everyday in your academic department, your academic family can extend to others in your discipline.  Whether you see or interact with each other daily or even weekly, because of technology, the world is a much smaller place than you think.

It is important to meet and get to know others in your academic department.  The wealth of knowledge from your colleagues will help you explore areas that you may not have thought of or even known.  More importantly, this allows for collaborative efforts in teaching and research.  In addition, others in your department can help you network and navigate the larger world in your discipline.

I have had a benefit of professors at the IU School of Education to encourage me to collaborate with them on research and attend academic conferences with them.  This opportunity not only strengthens my academic portfolio for later employment, but it helps me make connections with other colleagues.  By being involved, the large and scary realm of academia becomes much smaller, manageable, and personable.  It all becomes your family!

Every person has something unique about them.  If you spend time to really get to know them and understand their life experiences, you will be amazed of what you can learn.  Reach out to your colleagues now; either those you work with everyday or those you see once in a while, you will be surprised of how much you can learn from each other.

Be Yourself: Submitting an Effective Application for Admission

Often times depending on which program you are applying to, the only opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you is through your application.  Most programs aren’t able to hold in-person interviews, and therefore, they rely on the application, personal statement, and recommendations to determine if the department will benefit having you as a student.  As a result, it is important to make sure that each piece of the application highlights a different aspect of your personal and professional life.

Your resume or curriculum vita should highlight your academic and professional accomplishments. For the difference between a resume and CV, please refer to one of my colleague’s post. resume is the opportunity to explain to the admissions committee the skills and abilities that you have.  It is important to highlight leadership experiences, unique educational and professional recognition, and tangible skills that you would bring to the school and educational environment at the university you are applying to.  Instead of being repetitive, use the opportunity of having different experiences to list different skills and accomplishments.  If you find that you have a long list of items, shorten it with only the most important and those that will really highlight you as an applicant.

Your personal statement is your “interview.”  Instead of writing about cliche topics, those that are expected to be read, use this opportunity to “wow” your readers.  Be personal.  Let them into your life and heart to understand why you are really pursuing this degree.  Everyone says, “make them cry,” and in essence, yes! You want to make an impact after the committee reads your personal statement.  This being said, you may have to dig deep and write about a challenging time in your life, a situation that is uncomfortable to rehash, or a topic that is uneasy to share.  Not only will such an experience help you to reflect upon your own life but it will give a personal inside look to the person you really are. To the committee member, you will become a person not just an application.

Letters of recommendations are very important.  Recommendations allow the admissions committee to see how others think of you.  While it is important to have a letter from an important person, it is more important to find someone who really knows you and can write to your strengths.  If you have a recommendation from an important person who doesn’t know you well, you will get a very standardized letter that won’t tell the reader much about you.  But if you get a letter from one who knows you well, the writer will be able to refer to specific examples and highlight the strengths and abilities needed to get your admitted.

Because the admission application is a critical piece of your admission into your dream program and school, utilize it wisely. Since there is limited space, be sure to make good use of every page without being repetitive.  An application that highlights all of your strengths and abilities while giving a personal, inside look of who you are will make you a strong candidate!  Good luck!

IU: an institution that allows and supports collaboration across disciplines

A large research higher education institution as IU can be daunting as there are so many options. Everyone has a specific specialty and academic niche. There are a myriad of academic disciplines that students can choose from, and there are hundreds of academic research centers to wade your interests through. Although it can be overwhelming to some, it is a paradise to others who enjoy collaborating across disciplines.

I am studying higher education policy at IU; however, I am also a trained secondary education teacher and a lawyer.  From my old days as a lawyer, I still currently serve as Director of Disaster Legal Services, which is a partnership program between the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DLS provides pro bono legal services to disaster survivors after a natural disaster strikes the United States.

After meeting Mike H., a fellow IU Emissary for Graduate Student Diversity, we talked about the things we were involved in.  Mike mentioned that he used to work for FEMA and was intrigued with my work through the ABA and FEMA.  After several discussions, we figured that we could collaborate with each other to find better ways our services could be delivered to disaster survivors.

Mike H., is studying for his master degree in Human-Computer Interface Design at the IU School of Informatics and Computing. Through my work and connections with FEMA, I was able to invite Mike out to Washington D.C. for our quarterly meeting with FEMA and his capstone project to design a mobile application to better deliver disaster legal services was approved.

This government/non-profit – academic partnership is possible because of the collaborative nature at IU.  Because of the varied disciplines and opportunities, Mike H.’s past experience with FEMA and his interest to build this mobile app for us as his capstone project will allow us to better serve disaster survivors.

Come and find out more about IU’s collaborative nature among students, faculty, and the community!



Recruiting while at academic conferences

As a alumnus and current student of Indiana University, I represent the university and the schools that I am affiliated with everyday and every interaction I have with others. Indiana University is a world-renowned institution that attracts quality and diverse scholars to study and research.

This semester, I plan to attend and present at two scholarly conferences: the Indiana Student Affairs Association Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Education Law Association Annual Conference held in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  I will be presenting about the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas – Austin when the Justices will hear oral arguments in October.  Their decision in this case can change how universities and their admissions offices consider race and ethnicity as diversity in their admissions decisions, and thus, impact the make-up of our student body and the quality of our higher education.


While at these conferences, my interactions with fellow colleagues and prospective students will be to introduce them to Indiana University.  IU is a place that embraces diverse research and viewpoints.  As such, I am proud to be representing IU and continually recruit and introduce others to IU.

Recruiting at academic conferences isn’t akin to sales.  I am not there to pitch a sales message, but I am there to build life-long relationships, friendships, and academic camaraderie.  The name of the game isn’t competition, but collaboration.

Welcome to IU!  I look forward to meeting you and showing you how IU can help you succeed in your academic career.