Most often, you’ll need the help of others to succeed.

One of the benefits of the PhD at IU is the requirement across campus to obtain a minor. This requirement forces doctoral students to gain competency in a discipline tangentially related to their own primary program discipline. It is very useful to mix foci in this way to increase in breadth and depth of understanding with respect to your particular research interests.


Another aspect of cross-department work is the networking that takes place as a result. Some of my favorite professors have been those from other programs–both from my minor and from methods courses.  Additionally, at the level of students, working with students of other departments and disciplines has been beneficial if not enjoyable. Comparing programs and experiences is one way to gain insight as well as stay sane. For me, it has been very healthy to hear what is working for my peers in other programs and disciplines.  I highly recommend cross-pollinating your studies and work experiences in this way.

(Also, as a side logistical note, there are IU-sponsored technologies available if you would like to collaborate electronically.)

So you need a fixer?

In ABC’s Scandal, the occupation of the main character–who is based on an individual and her experiences real-life in Washington DC–is that of a fixer.  As a fixer, her role is to “fix” bad situations for politicians, private citizens, and sometimes for those within her own team.  Unfortunately, at IU we do not have any fixers. Sad, I know.


However, IU does provide a website (“IU Protect“) to assist in the assurance of public safety and technological protection for its students and staff. But you want the good stuff, right? For all intents and purposes, each department has an unofficial fixer.  Sometimes these take the form of department secretary, a faculty member, a very advanced doctoral student, or some other person with knowledge of the inner workings of the department but to whom you can turn for help and advice should you ever need it. The most important thing is to identify who this person is and gain their trust.

You Still Have Time Outside IU: Volunteering

The great thing about Bloomington is that it is easy to get involved with the community.  Bloomington has the one of the largest non-profits per capita in the nation.  It is actually only the 2nd city, after New York City, to have at least 1 fully-staffed person dedicated to volunteering in the mayor’s office.  Because of that, it was easy, like me for example, to get involved with one of the soup kitchens in the city like the Bloomington Community Kitchen.  The resources of the website and the place made it so easy for me to connect that I was able to help out all throughout summer a couple times a week.

City of Bloomington Volunteer Network

City of Bloomington Volunteer Network

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Academic/Technological Resources

IU really has one of the best research capabilities that you could ever have for a project that you would work on.  The great thing about being part of a statewide university system is that you have access to all of the IU campuses just from your computer and requesting it online.  Because of the numerous ways in which you might approach your research, IU has already subscribed to so many journals that if you ever wanted to see that study behind a newspaper article, for example, you could do that.

Wells Library

Wells Library

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Becoming more productive


Managing your time as a PhD student is exhausting. I often find myself blinking at the sheer number of tasks that need to be completed.  Since the start of this academic year, I have juggled revisions on my parts of my dissertation, learning Swahili, attending research skills workshops, writing conference presentations, teaching, and managing my three non-dissertation research projects. Even though I have experience in these areas, they still take lots of time.  I dream about having a research assistant.  LOL.

I know that there are two types of people in my PhD world:  (1) those who are productive by nature; and (2) everyone else.    This post is for that second group.   Continue reading

Problem-Solving Resources: Finding an independent study

I really enjoy the content and skills that I am learning in my Higher Education and Student Affairs grad program.  However, one of my research interests lies in Asian American issues and there was no specific concentration in my grad program.  So, how did I work my magic to find a mentor and discover my research interests?  Continue reading


When it comes to graduate school, most people’s first thoughts jump to experts in training in a narrow field of study, but further consideration might reveal the truth – graduate school, in fact research and teaching in general, is very reliant on collaboration.  It is a key component that differentiates the good scholars from the best, and is a skill that is carefully acquired and refined throughout a career.  If you need further evidence of this, just take a stroll around the IUB campus – you will see a building constructed especially for collaborative work, which is even named the Multidisciplinary Science Building II (or MSB II for short).


The recently constructed Multidisciplinary Science Building II (MSBII) on the IUB campus. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

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Nom Nom Nom

Photo by me (LaNita C)

Photo by me (LaNita C)

The picture above is my weekly meal prep time. It may look like too much food but its an easy way to save money and time for anyone and everyone, whether you are a graduate student or not. Clockwise from top left I have tilapia, pork chops, chicken and potatoes, ground beef and salsa, and steak burgers. Cooking in bulk will save you time because you cook one time for the whole week.

Just a few pointers/tips so you can experiment with meal prepping:

#1- CROCKPOTS I have 2 and I will put meats/veggies in them and let them cook on low or high for hours. EXAMPLE: chicken breasts or drumsticks with some garlic, salt, pepper, and cajun spice and chicken broth on low for 6 hours. Then you can just broil them for a few minutes to get the skin crispy.

#2- EGGS I hard boil about 10-12 eggs for easy breakfast or snacks. I don’t have time to scramble eggs everyday.

#3- FISH So you cant make a ton of fish and expect it to stay fresh- but it will last a day or two. I love tilapia for breakfast. I buy a ton of frozen tilapia fillets. Thaw them and put some cajun or chipotle seasoning on it. Heat a bit of olive oil in non-stick pan and sear it. Adding green chile sauce to it while its in the pan. Easy, fast, lean protein.

#4- LOTS OF TUPPERWARE Yep you need a lot to save in fridge or freezer and to take with you everywhere.

#5- MRS DASH SEASONING (no salt) Great and easy seasoning. I have a cabinet full. Most spices and marinades are full of sodium.

These are just a few suggestions to make life easier when schedules are chaotic!