Getting the Most Out of THIS Semester

Getting the Most Out of THIS Semester

Welcome to our new graduate students – and welcome back to our returning graduate students! There are almost 6,500 of you on campus this semester. You are enrolled in one (or more) of 250 graduate degree programs. You are an important part of the University of South Carolina. I am excited about the professional development offerings of the Graduate School this fall, which will be sharing next week.

Each Friday during the academic year, starting TODAY for fall 2018, we will post content related to professional development. On “Professional Development Fridays,” we hope that you will check out our posts on Facebook and Instagram, tweets on Twitter, videos on our YouTube channel, Linked In, and our blog posts written by UofSC faculty, staff, and graduate students as well as alumni – like this one! (Shameless plug to take a look at the ones posted previously, which are great!)

One of the most common discussions I have with graduate students leading into a new semester is about setting goals – having a plan. On one hand, I think it is really important to have a plan and monitor my progress in achieving the said plan. But, I am a planner. For those who prefer less structure, having a plan can feel daunting and restrictive.

Making a plan is just like setting goals and identifying ways to achieve your goals. Making a plan means writing down your plan. Maybe you want to work on time management this fall. Maybe you want to dedicate time to write. Maybe it is your first semester and you need to identify a potential mentor(s). Consider your priorities. Consider your schedule – available time. Consider your stage as a graduate student. Keep your plan manageable. Focus on achieving two to three “things” this semester, not 100.

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

Getting the most out of THIS semester means being intentional and taking time to plan, monitor, and reflect. You are going to be busy – but be intentional about it.

I have a few resources to suggest.

  • I encourage you to access a webinar from the spring 2018 semester – “Prepare for Success with Goal Setting and Time Management Skills” by Dr. Fatimah Williams – to get insight on how to prioritize in order to plan effectively, even when juggling many tasks simultaneously. Williams provides useful, practical tips on identifying priorities and aligning your goals with these priorities. In particular, I like how she emphasizes professional and personal goals because taking care of YOU is important.
  • “Every semester needs a plan” is a popular offering from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. UofSC has an institutional membership to the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, which includes resources for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty, webinars that will help enhance professional development, and more. You are eligible to join with a UofSC email address – and access recorded webinars on planning for the semester. You can check out resources for graduate students on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity website.
  • What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam is a great – and easy – read about strategies to get the most out of your time. In the book, Ms. Vanderkam emphasizes tracking your time, thinking about an ideal use of your time, considering logistics of how you use your time, building habits, and revisiting your approach. I have left five ***FREE*** copies of this book at the reception desk of the Graduate School in Close-Hipp, suite 552. The first five graduate students to stop by get one of the copies.

Common themes across all three of these resources are having a formal, written plan to guide your efforts; monitoring your time; and reflecting. We all have the same 1,440 minutes each day. How do you plan to use your time this semester?

As always, I welcome your feedback on how we can improve professional development offerings for graduate students. And, I hope to see you this semester at one of our events!

Dr. Heather Brandt is associate dean in the Graduate School and associate professor in the department of health promotion, education, and behavior in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Brandt received a PhD (public health), MSPH, and graduate certificates in gerontology and women’s studies from the University of South Carolina – a four-time alumna. However, she also is always a Hawkeye too, born and raised in Iowa and a graduate of the University of Iowa.

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In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Professional Development for Graduate Students

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Professional Development for Graduate Students

The University of South Carolina’s “no limits” campaign provides a directive to all of our students and particularly one for our graduate students to embrace.

“As Gamecocks, our spirit … our confidence … our success … and our community have no limits.”

The “no limits” campaign reminds me of a book I recently read by John C. Maxwell entitled, No Limits: Blow the Cap off Your Capacity.  Operating with a “no limits” mindset goes hand in hand with one of the most salient points raised throughout the book – the idea of “defining our world and ourselves in terms of our possibilities.” The main premise of the book provides a path for how one can move towards success and confidence with “no limits”.  This strategy is based on the following “formula”:


Capacity is comprised of three ingredients, according to Maxwell.

  • Awareness: remove the caps from your capacity
  • Ability: develop the capacities you already possess
  • Choices: do the right things to maximize your capacity

Maxwell states: “if you grow in your awareness, develop your abilities, and make the right choices, you can reach your capacity.”

As co-chair of the Graduate Professional Advisory Committee alongside Jennifer Mandelbaum, a Ph.D. candidate in public health and vice president of the Graduate Student Association at the University of South Carolina, we work with a multidisciplinary committee of dedicated faculty, staff, and graduate students to provide feedback to Dr. Heather Brandt, the Associate Dean of Graduate Professional Development on professional development programming for graduate students. Specifically, the committee is tasked with providing ideas for the creation and development of programming that will help graduate students “more readily reach their potential” and ensure that they do not have limits in front of them or can overcome any potential limits that may be encountered.

I believe what we do as a committee is an application of the Maxwell “no limits” formula for capacity. The programming that we offer is designed to help you become more aware of your skills, develop the capacities that you already possess, and make the right choices to maximize your capacity and be prepared to achieve a meaningful and satisfying career – all consistent with the Maxwell “no limits” formula. We offer programs that help you to reflect and to develop your ability and strengthen the capacities that you already posses. Our workshops “Learning the Art of Building your Network”, “Shut Up and Write”, and “Considering and Applying Your Transferrable Skills” help to develop one’s ability to build relationships, be productive and accomplish results, and the ability to see options and find answers. Further, we have workshops that help you to do things that maximize your choices. For example, Maxwell talks about responsibility and discipline as choices one makes to take charge of one’s life or to focus and follow through.  The workshop on “Preparing for Success and Goal Setting and Time Management Skills” is intended to help graduate students optimize their choices for how you allocate your time.  As a committee, we continue to observe and be deeply inspired of the embodiment of “no limits” in the brilliance, energy, creativity, perseverance, and fortitude of our graduate students. In other words, we are working to develop and offer programming to help you be successful in a variety of meaningful careers after you complete your graduate degree. As Maxwell notes, we want for you to blow the cap off your capacities to find success and fulfillment.

Whether you are graduating next month, or returning next fall, we hope this week that you will take time from your busy schedules to enjoy the graduate professional development workshops throughout this semester and more importantly the events for Graduate Student Appreciation Week. Whatever the journey ahead, remember to live your life with “no limits.”

Dr. Kellee White is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. If you are interested in being involved in the Advisory Committee on Professional Development for Graduate Students or have ideas for ways to enhance current programming, Dr. White welcomes you input.  You can contact her at

Questions? Email

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School

We are glad that you are here at the University of South Carolina, and we – along with the world – have a vested interest in your success!

Whether you are in a graduate certificate program, pursuing a master’s or a doctoral degree, you are our best hope for a positive future. In a highly selective process, you have won the opportunity to join a small percent of the world population with a graduate degree—less than 10% of the world has any college degree. With this opportunity comes the hope for your willingness to apply yourself to the wicked problems we face and to improve our collective existence. You will be responsible for extending the successes of your predecessors, fixing missteps that have occurred, and charting new territory with a vision for what possibilities exist.

The faculty in your discipline are here to push you to the limits of what you can do—perhaps more than even you think possible. The Graduate School and various other service units at the University of South Carolina are here to extend your learning with a wide range of enrichment activities. And, all of us are here to support you in achieving your educational goals.

Try to make some time to enjoy this exciting episode of your life. April 2-6, 2018 is a week set aside to show you some appreciation. So, set your books aside for at least a few minutes and enjoy cake and punch with Dean Addy (April 2 from 3-5 in Byrnes 311); get a new professional head shot (April 3 from 10 am-12 pm) and expand your financial literacy (April 3 from 5-7 pm registration required); explore career possibilities in a webinar (April 4 from 12-1:30 pm registration required); stop for a chair massage (if you can move me out of the way; April 5 from 10-2:30 registration required); learn more about your mental health (April 6 from 2-4); or, Just “Bowl and Mingle” (April 6 from 6-8 pm registration required).

Getting away from your books, your lab or wherever your “usual” haunts may be, matters. You will be the richer and more creative for having given yourself a break to interact with others outside of your discipline. Meet students, faculty and staff who enrich this campus. Take the time to see what your gifted colleagues are doing, share with them what you are doing and why it matters, and let us show you some appreciation for the uniqueness that is you. You might even just have to give yourself the permission to have some fun!

For those of you with the time (and inclination) to enjoy television programs, you may be aware of an observation from Sheldon Cooper, “There are a surprising number of supervillains with advanced degrees. Graduate schools should do a better job of screening.” (Big Bang Theory, 2008). Please help everyone know that we made the right choice for you, and let us know if we can help you make this world a better place – aspiring Supervillains need not apply.

Dr. Murray Mitchell is Senior Associate Dean in the Graduate School.

The Graduate School has planned several events during this week to express our appreciation of our nearly 7,000 graduate students. You can access a full calendar of events on the Graduate School events calendar.

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Graduate Ombudsman

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Graduate Ombudsman

In recognition of Graduate Student Week, welcome to one of many postings that celebrate the significant achievements of our graduate students and recognize the value they add to the reputation of their respective disciplines and the University of South Carolina at large. Far beyond USC, your innovative research enhances the quality of life and helps advance the universal goal of nurturing a truly global community dedicated to solving problems and creating new knowledge. The fruits of your labor advance your career, but more importantly, it promotes a better understanding of the commonality of divergent world cultures. This week we salute those achievements and challenge you to reach higher.

As many of you know, the Graduate School is dedicated to serving the needs of our graduate students by helping them make informed decisions and, when possible, solve their own problems. To that end, in 2012 the Provost created the Office of the Graduate Student Ombudsman. My appointment as inaugural ombudsman, charged me with creating an office operating under the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) governed by the IOA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Our goal remains dedicated to providing graduate students with confidential, neutral, informal, and independent assistance through which they may address concerns and reconcile conflicts.

Often, graduate students are plagued by problems that threaten to delay their academic or research progress and, at times, jeopardize their opportunity to complete their studies. Many of those problems are covered by policy and procedure. Unfortunately, students aren’t always aware of a given policy until they learn they have violated it. Worse, they learn it’s their responsibility to know and understand the myriad of policies, practices, and procedures that affect them. Granted, this is a shared responsibility, but when students don’t know the question to ask, or ask the wrong question, their good-faith actions aren’t always rewarded. At times, students feel victimized by a system seemingly unsympathetic to their ignorance or unforgiving when their only excuse is “nobody told me!” Thankfully, many of these problems have insignificant consequences or can be resolved with relative ease. At other times, efforts to solve problems, resolve conflicts, or reconcile differences are more complex. Often those student frustrations are referred to me. It is my responsibility to help students learn about and take advantage of resources that can help address those issues and reach a desired outcome. This assistance is provided with strict confidentiality and impartiality. My independence and neutrality make it possible for me to offer perspective that helps students pursue an informal, and often a much quicker, solution.

The role of ombudsman is often misunderstood. Many of the students who come to me for help expect me to be their advocate. At times this perception is reinforced by my previous duties as Director of Admissions and my continuing role as assistant dean, which includes significant international student admissions and service responsibilities. Because I must be neutral and impartial, I cannot be a student advocate. While I can’t be a student advocate, my role as ombudsman allows me to advocate for the fair treatment of graduate students. Unfortunately, many students who seek my services need an advocate more than an ombudsman. Still, the work I do seems to make a difference and has a track record of success that validates the need for a graduate student ombudsman.

Some of most compelling success stories are more about students who came to me as soon as an issue surfaced. They realized delays could further expose them to risk of greater harm. I urge you to become familiar with policy and procedure, ask questions if you don’t know or aren’t sure about their application to your situation or circumstance, and be proactive. This means you must assume personal responsibility for your actions, and inactions, even when that responsibility is shared, perhaps with your advisor or major professor. Unfortunately, I can’t help all students solve their problems informally. However, when those efforts fail, I may be able to help students better understand and navigate the formal process of appeal, petition, or grievance. Consistent with the mission of the Graduate School, it is my job and my privilege to serve you. If or when you need my help, don’t be reluctant to ask for it.

I trust you will take advantage of the many opportunities to celebrate Graduate Student Appreciation Week and urge you to support your colleagues in their efforts to share their accomplishments. Our graduate students are doing wonderful things in the classroom and community; in the lab and clinicals; and at conferences and symposiums around the country and the world. Celebrate and support their success and challenge them to take full advantage of this important part of graduate education.

I hope to see you this week at one of the Graduate Student Appreciation Week events and at Discover USC on April 20!

Dale Moore is Assistant Dean and Ombudsman in the Graduate School.

April 2-6, 2018 is Graduate Student Appreciation Week. The Graduate School has planned several events during this week to express our appreciation of our nearly 7,000 graduate students. You can access a full calendar of events on the Graduate School events calendar.

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Chair of the Graduate Council

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Chair of the Graduate Council

This week is all about Graduate Student Appreciation, so it is an excellent opportunity to write about the importance of graduate students to our marvelous organization – the University of South Carolina. We celebrate your inquisitiveness, your inventiveness, your entrepreneurship, and your enthusiasm for digging deep into topics that tell us about the world, improve lives, and make us more rounded as human beings.

Lofty words, what?

To make it all happen, though, university administrators, faculty and students are actively involved in making sure that your interests are served, as well as those of the University. One forum that is part of this process is the Graduate Council. The Dean of the Graduate School, faculty representatives of different schools, and, importantly, representatives of the Graduate Student Association are all part of this body. We meet every month to ensure that graduate students can excel at the University of South Carolina.

OK, it is not 1968, and you may not necessarily feel a great need to hit the barricades to amplify your voices. There is plenty of work to be done, though! Faculty and student governance are crucial aspects of a modern university, if only to safeguard academic standards and student wellness.

The Graduate Council advises the Dean of the Graduate School on policy and standards, and provides a way for her to see how policy sits with the faculty and students whom it affects. Many of the things we discuss in the Council are related to academic standards, which courses can be offered, and making sure there is limited overlap between programs. Occasionally, we consider student grievances in cases where students may challenge how program or school policies have affected them. Student wellness, however, is always on the agenda in some form or other! If you haven’t already, do check out the wonderful and growing opportunities for professional development that are now offered through the Graduate School. It will not surprise you that recurring themes in our meetings are those of student funding (how to increase it) and affordable student health benefits (how to ensure good access). The Council supports the Graduate School in its continuing efforts to increase investment in these areas. Such investments directly affect our student wellness, as well as the attractiveness of our university as the place to be for your graduate studies. There is always room for improvement in that area.

Graduate studies are tough, intense, and academically challenging. They should be. The reward, however, is not just to yourselves, as you shine in the limelight on the hooding stage and beyond, but also to society as a whole. On the way to this reward, your general well-being, your mental and physical health, should remain top priorities. After this week, I hope you will continue to let your voices be heard, so that the University of South Carolina can keep showing its appreciation of graduate students. One way to do this is to become involved with the Graduate Student Association and support their role in student governance. The struggle continues, but the Council is with you!

Dr. Dirk den Ouden is associate professor and graduate director in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Dr. den Ouden serves as the Chair of the University’s Graduate Council. You can read more about his work at

April 2-6, 2018 is Graduate Student Appreciation Week. The Graduate School has planned several events during this week to express our appreciation of our nearly 7,000 graduate students. You can access a full calendar of events on the Graduate School events calendar.

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Dean of the Graduate School

In Celebration of Our Graduate Students: From the Dean of the Graduate School

Thank you for choosing to be a graduate student at the University of South Carolina! Whether you finished your baccalaureate degree a few months ago or are pursuing a graduate degree to further advance a successful career, we celebrate your accomplishments and contributions to our teaching, research, and service missions this week.

You are one of nearly 7000 students pursuing a graduate degree at UofSC. Whether you are studying sociology or statistics, nursing or mechanical engineering, you are part of a comprehensive university that is committed to educating the thinkers and leaders of tomorrow; assembling and supporting a world class faculty; spurring innovation, creative expression and community engagement; building inclusive and inspiring communities; and ensuring institutional strength, longevity and excellence. At the Graduate School, we strive to meet these goals by supporting your graduate education through our services from the time you apply through your graduation. We hope that the activities this week and throughout the year offer professional development (#GRADprofdev) opportunities to enrich your academic experience here at UofSC.

Regardless of your chosen degree program, I am confident that you are working with faculty who are committed to offering a quality education as part of this next stage of your journey of lifelong learning. I sincerely hope that you are also finding resources on campus to support any non-academic needs. Most of the student services on campus are available to graduate and undergraduate students, but we have found that graduate students are often not aware of the resources. A major goal of the Graduate School this year has been to promote awareness of the available services on campus. In particular I refer you to the wide range of services and resources through Student Health Services, in the new Center for Health and Well-Being and the adjacent Thomson Center. While we do not provide many of these services directly, if you need any assistance identifying or accessing them, feel free to contact the Graduate School for further information.

Every August, I have the opportunity to welcome new students to UofSC. In a few weeks, I will greet some of you when you walk across the stage to graduate. Some of you are from South Carolina, and some of you traveled around the world to the University of South Carolina. But you all share at least one thing in common: you made the excellent decision to attend the University of South Carolina for graduate studies. Over 30 years at UofSC, I have seen many students and many changes. But what has not and will not change is our commitment to supporting you from the day you join us until you graduate – and beyond as we watch your career unfold.

Thank you for choosing the University of South Carolina! We hope you appreciate the activities planned for Graduate Student Appreciation Week and will continue to look for later opportunities.

Dr. Cheryl Addy is vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Addy welcomes your input, and you can contact her at or 803.777.2808.

April 2-6, 2018 is Graduate Student Appreciation Week. The Graduate School has planned several events during this week to express our appreciation of our nearly 7,000 graduate students. You can access a full calendar of events on the Graduate School events calendar.

Professional Journeys: From USC-Columbia to the District of Columbia

Professional Journeys: From USC-Columbia to the District of Columbia

International business accounts for more than just transactions. It’s a mechanism for shaping policy, politics, and society as a whole. At General Electric’s Global Government Affairs office in Washington, D.C., I work to create a cohesive business environment for one of the United States’ largest companies abroad. GE employs over 250,000 employees in more than 170 countries around the globe. With over half of those employees residing outside of the United States, it is absolutely vital that I understand more than American rules, institutions and policies. An attempted coup d’état in Turkey, corruption in Nigeria, and the rise of Chinese state owned enterprises operating in Latin America all have implications on GE. From Washington, my colleagues and I work to craft GE’s policy stance and outreach strategy on international political and economic issues in the regions where GE operates. We work with U.S. advocacy, government agencies, and our network of international colleagues to influence policies and institutions to generate a stabile environment and expand GE’s international operations.

The Master of International Business program taught me that international business encompasses more than the basic business concepts. Culture, politics, history, customs, and norms are all contributing factors to a business decision. By diving deeper into these factors through case studies, research, and group projects, it became clear that if I wanted to become successful in business, I would have to understand how to work outside of my culture and alongside or within another.

The coursework at USC was not the only mechanism for understanding business on a global scale. My classmates and professors hailed from all regions of the world. As lectures turned into discussions, the perspectives that my international colleagues reflected on were much different than my own. They often spoke English as a second language, had never spent extensive time in the U.S. prior to USC, and grew up in different lifestyles than I did. The educational and work experiences, languages, and cultures of the professors and students in the MIB program gave a glimpse into what working for a multinational corporation would be like. During group projects, being an American often meant you were in the minority of the group. Finding ways to effectively work alongside others that may be different from me to reach an intended goal or outcome is exactly what I do every day at GE.

The MIB program expanded my understanding of the influence of politics, culture and societal norms both domestically and throughout the world. The global coursework and diversified perspectives that I encountered in USC’s Master of International Business program gave me the insights necessary to work in Global Government Affairs at General Electric.

Breen Weir is a graduate of the Master’s of International Business program in the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. She works currently in Global Government Affairs at General Electric. 

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