‘This is where magic happens’

August 23, 2022

Hundreds of new students begin their graduate studies at orientation in Proshansky Auditorium.

2022 Student Orientation (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)
Caraline Malloy, who is enrolled in the Graduate Center's Ph.D. program in Industrial/Organizational (I-O) Psychology at Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, attended the New Student Orientation. (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski/Graduate Center)

The Graduate Center welcomed more than 600 new doctoral and master’s candidates in person and via Zoom on Monday with New Student Orientation in Proshansky Auditorium. With more than 200 students in person, the auditorium buzzed with activity and conversation as students greeted members of their program cohorts and met new peers.

Nipun Koshy, of Queens, who earned a bachelor's degree at City College and is beginning the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in Physics, captured some of the feeling in the room.

“I feel very excited,” Koshy said of his decision to attend the Graduate Center. “I expect it to be challenging but rewarding.”

President Robin L. Garrell congratulated students on their acceptance and thanked them for choosing the Graduate Center. She shared an array of helpful resources and challenged students to consider the end goals of their educational journey.

“I want you to think broadly,” she said. “What will you look like—you as a person, a scholar, a professional—when you get your degree? Who is that person? … This is the start of the arc of your time at the Graduate Center. This is a chance to shape your experience.”

Garrell invited students to get involved in their academic departments and encouraged them to find a balance between their studies and other aspects of their lives.

“This is going to be shocking, but you do not need to work 24/7,” she said. “Really. Make time to sleep. Make time for your friends and family. Make time to exercise. Make time to discover this amazing city, and make time to do something creative, whatever that means to you.”

Keynote speaker Professor Van C. Tran, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Hunter College, went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard, and is now an associate professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, welcomed the assembled students as “the future of the Graduate Center.” He encouraged those attending the event virtually to visit the Graduate Center building at 365 Fifth Avenue as soon as possible because, he said, “This is where magic happens.”

Tran celebrated the diversity in the room, emphasized the importance of inclusivity, and praised the Graduate Center’s mission of “creating knowledge for the public good,” especially in a time of polarization.

“We provide a space for those conversations that are not easily had anywhere else across the country,” Tran said. “Here, we are in the business of doing what we do: providing the very space for that type of exchange to happen, in pursuit of knowledge and truth. Whether you are coming here for Art History, or Philosophy, or Sociology, or Criminology, or Neuroscience, or Computer Science, we are united by one shared mission, which is to advance knowledge, to produce research, to produce scholarship, and to push the boundaries of knowledge … It’s an incredibly exciting journey, but also a tremendous responsibility.”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Steve Everett echoed the theme of responsibility, emphasizing awareness of place and acknowledging the location of Manhattan within the ancestral territory of the Lenape people.

“Recognizing this cultural heritage,” Everett told students, “hopefully will remind you of the place that you are part of now. And also our responsibility as researchers, scholars, artists, to ensure a culture of respect and inclusion within our community.”

Finding such a culture at the Graduate Center was essential for Caraline Malloy, a North Carolina native enrolled in the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology at Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences.

“I-O Psychology isn’t the most diverse field ever,” Malloy said, “and as a Black woman, it’s really important for me to be in an environment where I have a sense of belonging, and the Graduate Center—and Baruch in general—is a really diverse school.”

For Malloy, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Business and German, pursuing a doctorate at the Graduate Center represents an opportunity to immerse herself in a field that has fascinated her since high school.

At 17, she says, “I literally Googled, ‘what can I do with psychology and business?’ and I-O Psychology popped up.”

Now, she intends to become an expert.

“Industrial-Organizational Psychology is a specialist field,” she said. “And so up until the graduate point, you don’t learn too much about it. I know in general what I-O psychologists do, but as far as diving really deep into what they study, I haven't had that experience yet. So that’s what I’m most excited for.”

The final speaker of the event, Silvia Rivera Alfaro, a Ph.D. student in the Program in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures, received rousing cheers as she told students, “There is a radical power in caring for each other in graduate school.” Rivera Alfaro offered a warning about academia as belonging to a world “dominated by money, productivity, individualism, and systems of oppression” and reminded students of the importance of self-care.

“Of course, produce knowledge,” she said, “but in a rhythm that you can enjoy. Produce meaningful knowledge to nurture your spirit, your curiosity, and your dreams. Produce at a pace that is healthy for your body, for your physical and your mental health, and allow yourself to set healthy boundaries.”

Rivera Alfaro also noted the passion required for graduate studies, saying “Doing a master’s or a Ph.D. is a dream we work towards.”

“You have the right to enjoy that passion,” she said.

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