International Students Bring Fresh Perspectives to Research, Teaching and Outreach at Carolina
When Sertanya Reddy moved to the United States, she only knew one person. Starting a Ph.D. program at the same time as moving to a new country was challenging.
Reddy, originally from South Africa, says it can be difficult to form a community of support in graduate school because students tend to interact mostly with others in their disciplinary silos. That’s why she created an initiative to support international graduate students across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.
“As an international student and as a graduate student, if you’re not intentional about building community, it can be challenging to feel connected to the campus community,” she says.
In the 2015-2016 academic year, Reddy worked as the international student advocate for the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, where she launched Global Grads. In fall 2016, Global Grads was integrated into the Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success program.
The Global Grads initiative offers professional development guidance, networking opportunities and community-building events. These programmatic offerings provide international graduate students with the chance to create support structures with other students. The Graduate School also offers the Preparing International Teaching Assistants Program (PITAP) to help students develop teaching skills and build cross-cultural communication skills.
In fall 2016, there were 1,303 international graduate students on campus. Some students are funded through research or teaching assistantships, while others are funded by governments in their home countries. These students bring their experiences and perspectives into classrooms of undergraduates who may not have studied abroad. International scholars work on a variety of research projects that have an impact in North Carolina and beyond.
Reddy says she loves the community she has developed with other graduate students, both in her department and across the campus. Through her work with Global Grads, she has witnessed the power of community and the positive difference that can make in the lives of international graduate students, as well as in their academic success while at UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I’m very grateful to the Graduate School for offering the formal institutional support to keep Global Grads going for future international graduate students.”
Meet five international graduate students who are making a difference at Carolina and around the world at the Carolina Chronicle website.
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