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.

 

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! ☺

Graduate Class Highlight

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

For the past few months I have been taking a management class called Organizational Behavior and Leadership with Professor Bob Barbato. A lot of leadership concepts sound self-explanatory to be quite honest, but it wasn’t until the first case study breakdown that I realized the importance and relevance of what we were being taught. This class highlights the characteristics necessary in a successful leader, which can be effective both inside and outside the business world. Being a leader seems straight-forward, but there are a lot of aspects that come together to truly form a great one. Personally, when I go on to work, I want to change company cultures, encourage growth, and help make a difference. This requires certain characteristics. A leader needs to control his environment, understand those that he is working with, working under, and that our working under him. It is not easy to get a whole company on board with your ideas, or to know that you are leading them in the right direction. Every interaction needs a strong degree of emotional intelligence. This means not only being able to manage one’s own emotions but to understand and manage the emotions of others and a group as a whole. A manager will make sure things are operating appropriately, and as a leader will shape the culture. These concepts are the same for friend groups, social standings, and all of our interactions. First we must understand ourselves, and then we must learn how to understand others.

Professor Barbato does a great job at highlighting the importance of all of this, and more, by relating it to business scenarios, and everyday experiences. It is a class I would recommend not only for business students, but for any person interested in self-betterment, or being a better leader. We often see traits like leadership as a God given talent, but I believe that it is a skill that all can obtain, and everyone can improve on. Winston Churchill was a terrible public speaker when he first began his role in office, but that did not deter him. He practiced and worked at it, and went on to give one of the most inspirational speeches during World War Two. Any expert will tell you, to be great at something takes practice. Michelangelo once said, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” And that is coming from one of the greatest artists of all time.

If you would like to learn what it takes to be a great leader in your life, during your time at RIT, I recommend this class for you. You won’t become an expert overnight, but you’ll definitely be on the right track. Progress excels when two things are in effect; a great teacher, and an eager learner. In the management 735 class of Organizational Behavior and Leadership you will find a great teacher– now it is up to you to go out and learn.

Mental Health: A Little more Compassion

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” – Sigmund Freud

We all have our highs and lows in life. Remember that time when you felt completely stressed out about that project, felt anxious, weird, unmotivated, disconnected, but, you came out of that. It was just momentary and you are out of it, happy and cheerful again. But for some people, it may be prolonged, they might need little extra help. Sometimes individuals don’t realize that they need one or they just don’t believe the need of it. Worse is when people notice such kind of individuals, yet, they ignore it. Why? Why shy away from talking about Mental Health? Glenn Close aptly said, “What mental health needs is: more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about the illness that affects not only the individuals but their families as well.”

I know it’s sometimes difficult to realize an individual or your own self in stress until it embodies into a greater form. The earlier it is addressed, lesser will be the damage. We at RIT are thankful of the Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) to provide a wide range of services to promote personal and mental growth for overall well being of the RIT Community. It is located on the second floor of the August Center (AUG) and, you can contact them at 585-475-2261. One doesn’t need to be an individual in severe needs, one can visit them occasionally for just a little talk or distress during challenging times. They are there to listen and help you through. Even if something is bothering and you need advice, CaPS is there for you. So, if you feel like, you can visit CaPs, or you can suggest it to someone in need.

Apart from CaPs, you will find lots of De-stress events happening at RIT. So, watch out for those e-mails and make sure you bring your friends along. I would like to mention about a unique Distress event: Bow Wow Wellness. Yes, you read it right. You get to spend some time with the cute, cuddly and snuggly therapy dogs.

If you think someone is stressed, or just a little detached or unmotivated, or just a mood swing, or even if they are less cheerful than their usual self, DO take a step of care and concern. Talk to them, ask them what’s bothering, be persistent in the attempt to help because it takes them time to pour the heart out. Try to gauge the depth of their stress. Take them for a coffee, quick bite, a walk, a game, a workout session, movie, dance, Karaoke or anything that makes the person cheerful. Not everyone needs Counseling Center, sometimes it’s just a bad day or a point in time and all they need is your constant comfort, compassion, tenderness, kindness, affection, and support. They need to know that we care for them and we are right next to them.

“There’s a brand new you waiting on the other side of this madness. Stay, so that you can see what it is all for.”

Visit this extremely helpful page to learn more about the resources offered by RIT to address the concerns: https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/tigerscare/. Tigers Care. <3

Staying active – A review of RIT’s Intramural and Fitness Activities

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Talking about science all of us know how much we have advanced in the various fields of science. Diving deep into medial and biological sciences we have come across various astonishing facts and the working of the home to our soul, our body. Skimming through the countless pages of relevant literature one may say that we’ve came a long way exploring about us. But have you ever tried asking an expert in the sciences of human body about how much knowledge we have acquired of the human body? Well you can expect an answer which revolves around “we just know the basics”.

It is not a rocket science but for a healthy life, things must be in balance. The forces that drive your life must be in balance. It is important to keep your mental state in synchronization with the physical. There are many factors that play a key role in this. The oldest and the most well-known practices that keeps our mind healthy and our body strong is keeping the body moving. For a scholar, sports & physical working out is as important as academics. Studying can be tiring and there are things that can be done about it. The best thing for me, is to just go to a place where you can show some of your physical skills. Close your books and grab a football. Or get your swim attire and jump in the pool. There is a whole different science out of which you can conclude that any kind of physical workout reduces the stress level by a significant amount.

RIT Intramural activities present more than just the opportunity to be fit. Intramurals is an event people can team up with others competing in groups. It’s not just a sport but a learning opportunity and an event which has significant takeaways. RIT is home to over 2700 international students, so intramural activities provide the opportunity to interact with people from around the globe. Any team game is a serious business and it takes lots of practice, planning, strategizing and team effort. All these challenges bring the team members in close contact with each other which at the end of the tournament ends up in lifetime friendship. Sports is one of the best way to connect to someone because in the sports way of getting to know somebody it’s not just the talking that you do, you get engaged in a team activity, supporting each other and standing physical challenges together, exchanging real-time thoughts and ideas with a bunch of people you hardly know.

Apart from these amazing activities there is also a fitness center with all the state-of-the-art equipment which can help you keep yourself fit and strong. At the fundamental level it is always your determination that helps you, but if you are surrounded by something great there is an induction of greatness. And if you have the right determination and the correct environment you’ll resonate, and you’ll be at the peak. The fitness center is such a kind of place. It not just offers you equipment but motivation and strength.

Anything will be less in appreciation for this place. It has been home to RIT’s best swimmers, runners, basketball players and what not. It’s a place full of success stories, and if not, inspiration and motivation. Health is wealth indeed and I really feel RIT embraces this fact. It is very important for an individual to stay in good mental health. And the first step towards this is the physical fitness. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful activity centre.

It’s fine to close your books. Take a deep breath and let go whatever is stressing you. Go out dance in the dance studio, dive deep and swim in pool, tighten up your shoelaces, get the right music on you Spotify and run on the elevated running track. Stay fit and stay healthy!

Winter is Coming, to Rochester

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

I am from India, a land where a tropical climate is the norm for most parts of the country. I am from the southern part of India, where temperatures range between 60 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I had never seen temperatures below 32degrees, let alone see snow!

When I received my admit from RIT, I was thrilled to be starting grad school. Family members and friends who were aware of the weather in the Northeastern US used to tell me about the inclement weather that awaited me here but I figured, if it is an inhabited place, it cannot be that bad. I mean, why would humans choose to live in such a climate if it was so difficult to live in.

I first arrived in Rochester in the month of July, a time and weather that I learned later were like rays of sunshine on a cold, dreary winter day! As the fall season started, temperatures gradually dropped from the 70s to the 50s, I soon realized what I was in for in a few months. When the first snow fell during Thanksgiving week, it was such a beautiful sight. That snowfall was unexpected so even though it was not a lot, RIT had given us a snow day and classes were cancelled. I thought that maybe this (about 6-10 inches) was a lot of snow and was the limit, which explained the snow day. I was so wrong! The next few months I saw snow on the ground which didn’t melt for weeks, a snowstorm which halted all movement for 72 hours due to nearly 4 feet of snow everywhere, and a freak windstorm (winds reached ~80 mph) which knocked out power for large areas in Rochester for nearly 96 hours.

The winter months in Rochester can get quite gloomy and take some getting used to. Once the daylight savings were disabled in November, the sun set by 4:30 PM which disoriented me to no end the first few days. The days can get bright enough at times to fool first-timers like me to think that the sun’s warmth could be felt.

I was excited by all the snow the first few weeks, and I was impressed by how smooth life went on despite the climate. Roads and walkways were cleared well enough for commuting to be possible. Eventually, I got used to the snow-covered landscape everywhere I went, and though the cold did not go away till May, I kind of missed it when the summer came around. I guess I cannot wait for the next round of biting cold, snow, thick jackets, gloomy skies, and foggy breaths.

Reflections on Being a Student of Life

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Almost all of us agree on the fact that good things come to us by some sort of hardship. Majority of us would nod our heads when the words like “discipline”, “commitment”, “determination”, etc. are used to explain what a success story consists of. On the contrary, as our world is huge, anything is possible and there are people who can deny this fact. But then, a wise soul always knows what is right and above all, where the truth resides. Truth needs no proof, it exists. It thrives without any acknowledgement. But the truth that most of us know is not complete or, at-least, the most general version of the it. The strong vocabulary that we use to narrate success and the hard ways to achieve it is simply a side effect of the omnipresent truth; truth which we know as love.

Have you ever noticed successful people narrating their success stories? There is a little, but a very powerful secret, hidden in every single story. You would never find the narration in a sense of hardship, difficulty, obstacles or any other passive terms. It will always in terms of “I tried this…, “I failed this…”, “I did this…”, “it turned out to be…”, etc. It is us, the audience, who perceives how much difficult the journey would have been. Every quality one requires to succeed in what one seeks falls into place automatically with just one magical emotion, love; love for what we are doing, love for what we want to do. You can eventually see how everything else lines up so swiftly once you start pursuing your true love.

Even though this sounds very simple, there is a major offset at the very first step. And the manifestation of it is what is called “finding out our true love”. If you give this a little thought you’ll find that it is the foundation stone of almost everything that had been done or is in progress in the world which we exist. And if the foundation stone is laid in not-a-correct manner, not-good things are supposed to follow. This is a perfect state for us to identify whether we are on the correct path. A person in true love with his doings takes the not-good things as a constructive experience towards what he wants to do. This decision is not due to any personal factor of that individual, it is due to the strong love. A student’s life is all about this pursuit of finding the true love. It is hard being a student because a student is a device that allows passage of gigantic amount of information through his mind, heart and soul and it is always difficult to find a needle in the hay right! A student is a responsibility of his own. There are many practices that can help a student to be clear in their thoughts. Clarity of thoughts helps a student to identify the proper thing for him.

Even a one mile walk from my home to my class presents me with countless challenges. Not just the physical ones but psychological ones too. That’s the only bad thing of being part of such a diverse campus. But as I stated earlier, standing on to these challenges is what make me, or anyone, as diverse as the student community of which I am a part of. Being a student is not just about going to calls, taking exams, building a good GPA & getting a nice job, being a student is about learning life and the synchronicity in its diversity. Ever other part of our lives is designated with some fancy word but we all essentially are students of some kind.