Event Recap: Is Graduate School For Me? Part 2

The FI team, led by Graduate Fellows Dasharah Green and Rod Hurley, hosted “Is Graduate School For Me? Part 2” to provide support for students currently navigating the graduate school application process. The second in a series of online workshops, the December 5th event followed a format similar to that of Part 1 last Spring semester, beginning with a panel of CUNY graduate students and faculty members who shared tips and personal experiences about applying to graduate school, and then transitioning to a breakout session where students got the opportunity to speak with the panelists.  

FI Executive Director, Adashima Oyo, welcomed attendees to the event and introduced the panelists: Humanities Alliance Graduate Fellows Ariel Leutheusser and Sokunthary Svay, FI Budget Manager and MBA student Celi Lebron, FI Graduate Fellows Coline Chevrin, Kelsey Milian-Lopez, Hilary Wilson, Chris McGuinness, and Parisa Setayesh, FI Faculty Fellows Chaumtoli Huq, Saadia Toor, and Jason Hendrickson.

Professor Hendrickson also gave an informative and inspiring opening talk, in which he spoke about his journey to/through graduate school, and why it might be better to go to grad school directly after college, if possible. He made it clear though, that it was okay to take a break, and also discussed the merits of coming to graduate with work experience and a diverse skillset. In describing the transition to graduate school, Professor Hendrickson asked students to think about food. “Before this, in high school… you were really just preparing a buffet. But in college… you’re now creating like a specialized four-course meal… you’re crafting ideas that you serve. Graduate School is an amazing shift. It’s you becoming a master chef. It’s you creating your own menu…  One could argue, then, that getting the graduate degree is essentially you opening your own restaurant.”

During the panel discussion, Coline, Kelsey, and Professor Huq spoke about things to pay attention to in determining if a school or program is a good fit, including faculty and student profiles, academic culture, and social environment, as well as things like living expenses and recreation that are tied to location. Hilary, Celi, and Professor Toor shared their personal grad school experiences and mentioned key things they wish they had known prior to starting graduate school, like the importance of networking, asking for help and using every available resource. Rod discussed various funding options for graduate school, pointing out the need to assess one’s individual circumstances and requirements because, for example, international students may not be eligible for some scholarships or fellowships. 

Attendees were then invited to join one of four breakout rooms – application checklist, master’s vs doctoral programs, mentoring, and tips for success – to chat with the panelists and get answers to their individual questions. To close out the event, each group shared key points from the discussions.

The well over fifty undergraduates from across CUNY who attended the event also got advice and words of encouragement from FI Founding Director and Distinguished Professor, Cathy N. Davidson, and Graduate Center Provost, Steve Everett. Overall, the event was an engaging and enlightening experience for all participants and reaffirmed something that we already knew – CUNY students have immense potential. Their strong interest in graduate degrees and the diversity of their backgrounds and interests provide clear evidence that this is indeed a University Worth Fighting For. 

Information and Resources


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
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New York, NY 10016-4309