First Semester of Grad School – An overview

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

A wise man once said “And alas, I take this weight off my shoulders, far heavier than any object I have held.” A quote, which I like to believe, the author wrote in regards to finals week. Every year of College you go into finals week either astonished at how much you’ve learned, or abashed at how little you remember. Often times a little bit of both. Either way, it can be overwhelming as you summarize the learnings of the semester. At the same time there is something special about finishing that last test. You walk out of the room with a feeling of accomplishment, finally relieved knowing that you can truly relax for a bit. Oddly it often feels like there is still some assignment looming over your shoulder, but that feeling soon fades.

For my first semester of Grad school many of the feelings were similar, but there was something significant that differed. The classes in Grad school are conducted to bridge the gap between knowledge and experience. There is a much greater focus on practical use and implementation. You spend four years storing up and building knowledge from undergrad that you now not only add on to, put also learn the practicality of, through case studies and situational analysis. This kind of learning is special, because it doesn’t only enhance your knowledge of the subject matter, it also helps you form a leader’s mindset. For any job, regardless of position, this mindset only helps you. If you are in the lowest position at your job but you think like a leader, then the sky is the limit for you. Because that mindset shows in your excellent work ethic and demeanor, both of which foster success.

It took me a long time to decide to go to grad school. It’s expensive and a big commitment. I wrestled with the decision, and weighed many pros and cons. Maybe I could go and work for a couple of years and then come back or do night classes. Maybe I can get a job that pays for it down the road. Maybe I will never want to go back to school. Maybe I should just go right into it with the 4+1 opportunity. There are so many possibilities. It gets overwhelming. But I think that at the heart of it you come to realize that the right or wrong answer that you’re looking for, might not exist. Sometimes you just have to make a decision and go with it. Life is full of these moments. In June I decided to go with it. Was is the right decision? Who knew if I’d get in on time? Hadn’t taken my GMAT yet, hadn’t even started my application. There were so many questions and “what if’s?”, but I ran with it. And now, as I sit here relaxing on winter break, one great semester into grad school, and one last semester left… I’m glad I did.

From full-time student to full-time employee!

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Life is all about starting something and putting it to an end. The rest is uncertainty that makes things work. Uncertainty is an essential part of any phenomenon and it is important to realize this fact. It is important to understand that not everything in this universe can be modeled and there are things beyond the reach of our intellectual telescope. But still, life is all about starting something and putting it to an end, and that’s the best we can do.

To start up with something takes a lot and the journey to the end makes you realize you got more than you gave. It might seem that it’s something you did all on your own. That’s not true. There are countless forces working silently to take you to the designation you are intended to go to. This a tribute to all those forces that helped me to end one of the thing I started.

I came to the United States to learn new things and to deepen the knowledge of the things I knew. All I knew was what I’m going to do but I didn’t have any idea of how I will be doing it. Its not always very easy to start something off when you are 8000 miles away from your land of comfort. I’m glad and respectful for the fact that I landed at a place which eventually never made me feel the it would be substantially difficult to start something that I have never done before. Words will be less if I were to state what I learned from whom here at RIT.

For a graduate student, searching for jobs and internship, when you are already busy with your graduate level courses, can be tiring and unproductive when done in a wrong manner. It is not always that simple to manage your time for your present and planning your future. But when done in a well-organized way the, tables can be turned. It was not me who got an offer letter and ended the search of an excellent work opportunity that will enhance my knowledge and understanding of the academic interests. Rather, it was the skills I gathered from being a part of such an enriching community that helped me fetch an offer.

Its always the knowledge that you gained in the classroom that will make you a sound person. But it’s the “outside classroom” lessons that will help you to get out and find work and make you a valuable person. I would not be wise to say I cultivated the best of my qualities by my own. I owe every single inch of my small step towards success and satisfaction to RIT all the wonderful people it consists of.


Transitioning into a Different Academic System

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

It’s final weeks now here at RIT, and it’s also my first time dealing with multiple final exams and project under a semester system. You are probably wondering why, and I am here to tell you. It’s because my undergraduate uses a block plan, which means the school only runs one block at a time for three and half weeks, and we were only responsible for one final exam or project every month. As a matter of fact, I was trained to really focus on one subject during a certain period of time and got my work done efficiently.

Whereas now I am studying under the semester system, which is the most common type of academic schedule, I feel like I am learning a lot to train my brain to multitask effectively while I am working on multiple subjects throughout one semester. Although I admit that it did take me some time to make this transition go as go as smoothly as possible, I do enjoy the way that my brain gets to switch to different modes during different tasks between different academic schedules and systems.

There’s a bunch of studies and experiments on how to multitask or what multitasking does to our brains and such, but since we are hitting the final days of school here, I still want to share some small tips for better multitasking that have been really helpful to me, especially when you are preparing for your final exams.

1. Establish clear goals and keep your schedules and to-do lists visible.
2. Create priorities and do the most important tasks first.
3. Know when you work the best and manage your schedule to use your best time free for the prioritized works.
4. Try work on related tasks together to improve quality and increase efficiency
5. It’s okay to be slow sometimes. You should allow your brain to reboot and then work up to the performance level you desire.

So I hope these would really help some of you, who are also facing final exams and good luck to you all (myself included)!

Places to Go, People to See

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

One of the most common concerns expressed by students, outside of school work, is the struggle to meet new people and make new friends. There are about 18,000 students at RIT, and if you take a look around, quite a few faculty and staff, yet it can still feel difficult at times to break outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. Why is this? Well for starters, it can be uncomfortable. To be quite honest, you aren’t going to like everybody you meet, and not everybody is going to like you. But the more people you meet, the better chance you have of meeting someone that you might realize you really get along with.

When I was a freshman in college, I sat at a random table with a bunch of people I had never met. I was always fairly outgoing and enjoyed meeting new people. After about four jokes that went over everybody’s head, I realized, okay these probably aren’t going to be my greatest college friends. But, I still stuck around and made a lot of acquaintances. For the rest of the four years, we always said hello to each other. And if I was ever eating alone, I knew that I could always go sit at their table. It made me feel more comfortable knowing that I knew people. The next day I sat with a new table of people, and one of those guys went on to be one of my closest friends in undergrad. The Lunch room is just one simple way to interact with others. RIT is such a diverse school with countless activities and opportunities to socialize. There are approximately 300 clubs covering almost every activity you can think of. And if there isn’t one that really clicks with you, you can go out and make one! Go to the different events offered on campus, or pick up a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn. It’s all about making the first move. If you always wait for things or people to come to you, you face the risk of missing out on countless opportunities. If meeting new people if something you’ve always wanted to do, research some of the clubs or activities we offer on campus. Trust me, it is more than likely that there are people out there with some of the same interest. I had a coach that always repeated the quote to me, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. A week later he was yelling “that’s enough shots”, but the idea still remains the same. Whether it’s with basketball, leaving an answer blank on a test, or meeting someone new — sometimes life’s about taking chances, and being a little uncomfortable.


Winter Break is Almost Here – Maximizing free time

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Its hard to find a reason why the fall semester passes with a blink of an eye. It’s like it was just yesterday I had my first class of the semester. Well, time passes at its own pace and there are a lot of constant changes going on around us. The best part of these changes is the beautiful and timeless transition nature makes from the ever-breath-taking spring to the breath-freezing winter. I have always found this world to be the best example of adaptation to changes.

Fall is the season of preparations. Preparation not for facing the worst but for sustaining for the best that’s coming. You can see it everywhere! Just peek out of the window and see the trees who let us know the fall season has arrived. Leafless they are with every single inch of chlorophyll down turned to shades of yellow and brown. No leaves, no photosynthesis, no energy? Do these trees extract energy from the cold of the winter? Obliviously not! They’ve been preparing the whole fall like the squirrel who has started storing chestnuts, seeds and flowerbuds for the coming frozen days they cannot get out in search of food. Preparation plays a key part in self-development and leads us to something better than before and if not better, it leaves us with some useful lessons, always.

Vacations and breaks are one of the best part of any academic journey. They are as important as the requirement of sleep after a whole day of keeping up. It gives you some quality time with yourself. Time, you can invest on self or on the things and ones you love. It’s an historic fact that most of the people don’t realize the importance of time at the right time. Time is a limited resource which everyone should use sensibly. Planning and preparation helps us to use this powerful resource wisely. Many of us might find vacation or break time as time to take physical rest and be a little lazy and that is not a bad idea. But these non-academic intervals can be made as productive as the academic counterpart or may be even more with a little bit of planning.

People have been making great plans with the help of good music, a cup of coffee and the internet. There is a lot to learn apart from the course books. There are interesting sports to play, amazing musical instruments to learn, opportunities to explore the outdoor, wonderful people to meet and what not. Just take the charge of your time. Plan wisely!

It is legitimate to say that if you are older than fifteen you most likely would have heard about Albert Einstein’s famous work of his life, the Theory of Relativity. It is one of the most fundamental formulation & explanation of the behavior of the space we exist in and the passage of time that we experience. It comes among the most fundamental theories which attempts to explain the workings of universe we live in. Yet, it is one of the most difficult topic to comprehend and is generically intriguing and thought provoking. The Theory of Relativity, it is bizarre. And its consequences… they are far beyond that.

Let’s not talk physics and let’s talk life. You won’t be requiring an in-depth knowledge of Einstein’s relativity to prove that comfort zone is fairly a relative phenomenon, do you? Obliviously not! We all have our unique comfort zones and sharing this comfort zone with other people who have the same comfort zone puts us human beings into a category of social beings. We must embrace the fact that learning always starts with the very first step that we take outside our comfort zone. Do what you love, do it a little bit more.

Books your ticket in advance to your destination as the prices are pretty low if you do it at the right time. Make some adventurous plans with your friends. Visit you home, its always nice to share stories you’ve gathered in a new foreign land with the people you call family. Join an online course and learn a new programming language. Search for interesting jobs where you might be a good fit. Invest every single moment on yourself. Plan and prepare well!

Holiday season is here!

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

I can’t believe how time flies! It’s been three months already since I arrived at RIT and the holiday season is now in full swing! Woohoo! Although schoolwork is still keeping me busy, I did have some opportunity to spend time doing some fun stuff before and during the Thanksgiving break, and now I would like to share some of those memories and joys with you all!

Right before the break, I had a chance to see David Carson, a celebrated contemporary graphic designer, at an inspiring design conference called R|ADWEEK. I was impressed by David Carson’s vibrant and bold approach to magazine design and his innovative use of experimental typography. As a visual designer myself, it’s always good for me to sit in a conference hall or have a gallery walk, bursting with new ideas and inspirations. The conference was held in a huge and unique artsy space called ARTISANworks. The place was a renovated factory building with numerous multidisciplinary artworks inside. If you are also interested in looking into some fun, inspiring and entertaining art pieces, you should definitely check out this place!

Then I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with some friends at one of my classmates’ parents’ house in Hastings, New York. I have always been liking the idea of celebrating holidays with some local families and friends while I am studying abroad – I think it’s a part of the excitement of living in a new culture and experiencing new traditions. Other than enjoying the great traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home, we also went to a two-mile-long DRIVE-THRU holiday light display called Lights on the Lake in Liverpool. It was a perfect way to forget about the cold weather and get that holiday feeling before everything kicks in.

Now I am so refreshed and recharged, and I am ready to take up the challenges in preparing for my academic final exams and projects.

It’s all about balance! – Work hard, play hard

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

Even before 9 p.m. a large crowd had gathered at Schramrocks for the fall semester graduate student celebration. The crowd was all set to take a break from their busy lives and never-ending homework.

This party was an event that I organized in my role as a Graduate Senator to the RIT Student Government,  and I had the pleasure of being a host to over 400 students from different majors at RIT. The students had a lot of fun and the menu was chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, pizza and a lot more. There was also a raffle which gained a lot of attention from the students.

By the end of the night students were having a great time and I could personally see and hear them talking about this special event only for graduate students. The students were at the party for over 4 hours and managed to finish the food in half the time and also the dance floor was crowded with students who were dancing to the custom playlist they managed to make me add to Spotify. All in all it was an amazing party which was successful thanks to the awesome graduate community at RIT and I would hopefully post another in Spring soon so spring incoming students have something to look forward to! ☺