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Hi gradcafe! We're the Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team (GRIT) at the University of Chicago. We're a team of graduate students committed to the recruitment and retention of students from marginalized backgrounds to graduate programs in the Biological and Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago.

For students from marginalized backgrounds, the road to grad school can be confusing, downright scary, and may seem impossible. The lack of diversity in STEM is a huge problem, generating unsupportive and sometimes hostile work environments for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, and female-identifying students. GRIT aims to help fix the "leaky pipeline" in graduate school recruitment by actively recruiting minority students to graduate school, connecting prospective students with faculty members of interest, and fostering personal connections with prospective students to ensure they find the best graduate program for their interests. In addition we aim to bridge gaps in marginalized student retention by providing programming that aims to provide supportive environments, community building, and increase access to mentors and role models (such as seminar series featuring LGBTQ+ scientists, womxn's networking and mentorship events, and community-focused events).

So... why are we here? We want to reach out to the prospective graduate student community and offer our support! We're here to talk diversity and inclusion, talk about struggles we have faced, talk about the graduate school experience, talk about applications: ranging from "am I a competitive applicant" to how to talk about non-scientific strengths (i.e. you balanced 3 jobs in undergrad and don't have a high GPA because of it) and even what graduate and non-graduate programs to consider, to talk about our successes in recruiting, STEM identity etc.

We are here to help other students have a better experience, both in the application process and after they get in. Reach out and let us know what we can do.

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Hi there! Thanks for offering to help!

I have a question about writing a diversity statement that some of the programs ask for, mainly focusing on how the applicant will contribute to diversity on campus. For example, here is one from Northwestern: 

"The Graduate School at Northwestern University considers having a diverse student population a key element to the educational experience of its graduate students. Diversity presents itself in many different forms such as: socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or place of origin, disability, unique work or life experience, etc. We invite you to use this space to tell us how you may contribute to the diversification of The Graduate School, your program and Northwestern University."

I am a female, Hispanic, pansexual in engineering, which I would say is a rare thing. However, I don't really know how to go about describing how I will contribute to the diversity. Do you all have any tips?

Thanks in advance!

(Also, I hope it's okay that I am not applying to the University of Chicago. Sorry about that, folks! I am so grateful for your help, though!)

 

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23 hours ago, Moods said:

Hi there! Thanks for offering to help!

I have a question about writing a diversity statement that some of the programs ask for, mainly focusing on how the applicant will contribute to diversity on campus. For example, here is one from Northwestern: 

"The Graduate School at Northwestern University considers having a diverse student population a key element to the educational experience of its graduate students. Diversity presents itself in many different forms such as: socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or place of origin, disability, unique work or life experience, etc. We invite you to use this space to tell us how you may contribute to the diversification of The Graduate School, your program and Northwestern University."

I am a female, Hispanic, pansexual in engineering, which I would say is a rare thing. However, I don't really know how to go about describing how I will contribute to the diversity. Do you all have any tips?

Thanks in advance!

(Also, I hope it's okay that I am not applying to the University of Chicago. Sorry about that, folks! I am so grateful for your help, though!)

 

Hi Moods!

I'd say that you can describe how you will contribute to diversity however you'd like! If you have a specific experience about how your various identities have intersected with STEM that might be good to share. For an example, if I was to write a diversity statement I might talk about some of the things I have overcome related to my identity in STEM (maybe an experience with a faculty member, or a learning experience for someone outside of my identity), or about some of the work I had done in undergrad on increasing diversity. I've had some powerful experiences with outreach and mentorship (young girls realizing they too are / can be scientists) etc. Sometimes its hard to figure out how exactly you "contribute", but I'd say that you contribute to diversity just by being yourself! Simply by existing as a Hispanic pansexual scientist you are paving the way for others who might have similar identities to succeed. Emphasizing your identity is key - your presence and love for science is a huge step for representation in science, and if you wanted to discuss any possible ideas you would have to create space / events for members of your identity group that would also be a good addition. 

I can't speak to anything specific about engineering, since I don't think we have an engineering department here, but I hope this helps frame your thoughts. 

Best of luck!!

the UCGRIT team

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