Find Yourself by Finding Others

Photo from Altered by Tiphani D

Photo from Altered by Tiphani D

I am a firm believer that sweatpants, a T-shirt and an assortment of sugary snacks can be a human’s best friends, but sometimes these need to be abandoned in favor of finding your social and professional niche within the IU community. While it sounds daunting, and not at all as easy as blasting through a marathon of Law and Order: SVU, it is an extremely important skill. I will, in full disclosure admit to not mastering this yet, but it is important to make connections for professional development, and for you own mental health; grad school is hard, and having a circle of people you can talk to can make the process easier. Continue reading

Professional Conferences

Because of where IU Bloomington is geographically situated, it is usually only a few hours of driving by car or a quick plane ride to where you need to be.  For instance, I had the opportunity of going to the 99th Annual International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Conference in Boston and was able to get heavily subsidized through a scholarship made available for those students that went to this conference.  Networking always scared me, but being put into the situation where professionals are constantly trading business cards, it seemed like 2nd nature after those four days that I was even giving them to a couple of strangers on my plane ride back to Bloomington. Continue reading

You’re Old Now

As you walk around campus today, pass through buildings, and try to figure out the panini line in the IMU, you may have had a weird feeling in the depths of your soul—that’s right you’re officially old and you may want to blame an undergrad or seven hundred for that feeling.  While the undergraduate experience may still be fresh on a few of your minds, for those of us over twenty-five, four years out of college is a light-year in fashion, music, nostalgia (seriously what the heck is a One Direction).  You’re confused, maybe even a little tired because the coffee line is too long, but stay strong comrade, stay strong.

courtesy of

Now before you go grabbing your cane and lecturing these young bucks about the good old days when MTV played music videos, eating dunkaroos, and long forgotten dance moves courtesy of D4L remember one very important thing; your parents, their parents, and their parent’s parents did the same exact thing to the generation that followed them.  No young person wants to be lectured, but they do want someone who will reach out to them as a mentor and ally.  Your undergraduate experience was transformative to your being and so will Indiana University be for theirs, don’t gripe if they seem apathetic or don’t immediately know how to network.  Don’t judge too harshly; reach out to a few of them especially if they share similar academic and career interests.  Learning is a reciprocal experience where as you provide guidance, the appreciation will come back two fold and hopefully they’ll be able to explain to you who the heck One Direction is.


Finding a Mentor


Clip art taken from

Clip art taken from

I’ve always envisioned a mentor as someone I would meet with on a regular basis; discuss what was going on in my academic and personal life. They would offer me their experience, serve as a sounding board and help me accomplish my goals. Sound a little too perfect? Maybe…maybe not. My experience has been that one person cannot always accomplish all of the above.

Finding the right mentor(s) can be an amazing asset as you navigate the complex world of graduate school; but what exactly should a mentor do for you, and how and where do you get one? While the following advice is not extensive, it will hopefully get you thinking about how to proceed.
First, what is a mentor? A mentor is someone who will be available to work with you to develop your potential, inspire and challenge you. Because you will need different people for different things, a mentor is not always a one-size-fits all. Finding multiple mentors for the various parts of your career or personal life is important; the key is asking yourself:

  • What can I learn from this person?
  • How can they help me maximize on my graduate school experience?
  • Does their mentoring style fit me?
  • Where to find one?

Mentors can be found in faculty, staff, and other graduate students. Again, the fit will depend on your interest and goals in maximizing your graduate school experience. Be aware of the different mentoring styles, and that some mentors will want to keep their communication strictly professional and not personal.

In short, create a network of mentors that fit your needs and goals, along with clear and realistic expectations.
For more on mentorship, check out the following presentation from Dr. Patrick Dickerson, “How to get the Mentoring You Need?” PLD GLASS 2013 Mentoring

Future Faculty Conference

This past week I attended a future faculty conference at Virginia Tech. It was lots of fun. I got to meet other grad students and post docs from around the nation. I figured I share the pictures with you all. Check it out! If you are able to participate in future faculty programs I’d strongly encourage it, IU has one in the spring click here for more info.

Diversity at IU

We can see, feel and taste the diversity whenever we come to any IU campus. With students from all 50 states and more than 130 countries, IU has a rich culture with very diverse ethnicities. Diversity promotion is a big part of the strategy to internationalize IU.

The office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (DEMA) is dedicated promote diversity at IU. Diversity promotion efforts focus on developing diverse array of programs, services, and activities that help to “promote excellence through diversity, equity, and culture at Indiana University”.

Below you would find the link of Diversity resources at IU Bloomington.

Each center provides its own services to support students in every aspect. Know that they are always there to support you and your academic growth.  It is awesome to be part of a diverse campus where you know the exchange of ideas and experiences is fully encouraged. These certainly influence our academic and campus life in a positive way.


Networking and the courage to say “Hi”

Everyone knows the core principle of networking ☺ I think it basically means we make efforts to broaden our relations…Why? Coz relation is extremely important to our personal growth and professional development. There are different kinds of networking namely business networking, social networking… I want to mention about social networking under IU context. So how do we do networking? For me it starts with the courage to say “Hi”…

The hardest part to start a conversation with a stranger is to “break the ice” or “ice breaking”. This sounds very simple but it is not so easy. Why saying “hi” first? The “stranger” is certainly strange. He/she is so different from us…There might be no connection between us and “the stranger”…He/she might prefer to be alone…He/she might not be interested in talking to us …A bunch of “fair” reasons keep us silent and act as a stranger too. But…very often when I take the initiative to say “Hi” first, people open up immediately and we continue with very interesting conversations. These conversations provide me lots of good information about new school programs, community involvement activities, funding opportunities…I am here today to write this blog about networking thanks to a friend I met at the Graduate Lounge over lunch. That’s gives me the chance to meet with 11 awesome emissaries and we have so much fun working together…

We can say “Hi” creatively too. The most common I use are Heya, Halo and Hola. You could look up all kinds of foreign ways of saying hello and memorize them to impress your friends. I also see recommendations from another blogger who says if you’re going for humor, you can use famous lines from movies or characters. From Mickey Mouse Club, “Howdy, Howdy, Howdy” from Toy Story, and “Hiya Pal” from Mickey Mouse himself 🙂 There are millions of ways to say Hi starting with the basic ‘hey’ and ‘what’s up’. What are your ways of greeting people? ☺

I also strongly recommend joining the activities of students’ associations at IU if you want to broaden your network. Do you know that IU has more than 750 student organizations all founded and led by students? Those organizations gather regularly to explore professional interests, hobbies, sports and recreation, academics, religion, politics… In Vietnam we have a saying “you are rich because you have friends” and I hope you are always very rich ☺

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.

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.