Being a Student Liaison: Making Rewarding Connections

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

We are now almost three-quarters through the academic year, and I have also been a graduate student liaison here at RIT for that much of a time without even realizing it. If you ask me what I find most rewarding about this position, I would say it’s the opportunity to break boundaries and make connections for the prospective students, and keep forming and maintaining them at the same time.

Almost all of the bloggers here are from the graduate student liaison team. As a student liaison, we serve as an ambassador to prospective students by offering perspective and assistance throughout the enrollment process. We normally communicate with those students by sharing experiences via the office’s social media, placing outgoing courtesy and follow-up phone calls and emails. We also gather in meetings and come up with ideas to better serve the connections.

I didn’t really feel the strong connections to students until it hit the busy season in the admissions office, which was around Thanksgiving last year. Students started to have more questions about applying to university and also about the general student life on campus. That’s when I began to feel good inside about being a graduate student liaison. Personally, I grew so quickly at RIT, I am eager to share my personal experience with prospective students, particularly international students, and cope with their doubts towards future study at our school. The small talks that I had with the students made me step back at the moments when I talked to the RIT student representatives while I was applying for the school. In the meantime, I feel proud of adding diversity to the university and help prospective students with on-the- ground information and adjust to campus life quickly after enrollment.

To me, talking and making connections with the students is also a good way for me to self-reflect on my personal student life and academic performance. I am also greatly grateful for the precious opportunity of studying at RIT and aspire to reward the school with my knowledge, skills and experiences. To put it in a nutshell, I feel like being a graduate student liaison is extremely rewarding and meaningful, and I am hoping to meet the students in person soon! If you would also like to be connected to one of our liaisons, feel free to feel out the Connection Request Form here: https://join.rit.edu/register/GradStuConnectRequest

RIT’s Secret Amenities

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

In my last Blog I spoke about the importance of being active and taking care of our bodies. This week I would like to highlight some of the facilities and healthy, fun opportunities that are available at RIT.

On top of the various clubs that students create and the multiple physical education/health classes taught, there are some hidden gems in RIT that I have found during my time here. First off, for a motivated individual, they supply you with everything that you would possibly need. I have always been an advocate for working out and have visited many gyms, so believe me when I say that RIT has an excellent fitness center. They cover over machine and free weight necessary, while also providing an open exercise area on the upper level for CrossFit workouts, or stretching. There are multiple indoor and outdoor tracks if you’re one of those crazy running people as well. Working out alone can be daunting, but the staff are more than happy to assist in spotting you or even giving advice. Now to the hidden gems.

RIT’s Wellness Center has a sign-up option where you can work with a trainer to carve out a workout or fitness plan/diet. This can provide anyone an excellent advantage and expert guidance. They can also check your weight, body fat, and ranges of motion as you set goals to improve all those functions. This can save you a lot of independent time and research.

Another cool hidden gem that every student should know is the free chiropractic care that RIT students are available to use. The Rochester Health Center, Affiliate of New York Chiropractic College on, 1200 Jefferson Rd, Rochester, NY 14623, offers all RIT students free treatment. It is an excellent training facility that I have been using since I found out about it. Chiropractic treatment can be beneficial to anyone, and is an awesome advantage to have while at college.

Some final gems that current or incoming students might want to keep in mind are, the Red Barn Rock climbing center, the Wave pool (lazy river) section of the aquatics center, the hot tub, the sauna rooms, the ice skating rink with public skate hours, the indoor racquetball courts, and the outdoor tennis courts which have multiple public hours. A lot of times we want to do something different and fun, but aren’t sure what to do. These are just a few ideas of things available.

I’ll rap up with this. As you’ve read along, this can easily sound like a cheesy infomercial where I end the speech saying, “All of this can be yours for only $19.99!”. But that’s not my goal. I have always operated under the opinion that the more you know, the more you’ll do. When I graduated from undergrad I looked back and was a disappointed to find out about some things that I didn’t even know existed. I always had a few regrets of things that I wished I had tried at the time. This Blog is just to highlight some of the great opportunities here that might interest you. Give it a shot. You never know if you’ll find something you might truly enjoy.

P.S (Here’s the links to the Facility hours and the Chiropractor College)
https://www.rit.edu/~w-criw/schedule.php
https://local.yahoo.com/info-92436627-new-york-chiro-clg-health-center-rochester

My first Toastmasters Club session

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

I had heard about Toastmasters a couple of years ago from a friend who was looking for a way to overcome a crippling fear of public speaking. I mirrored similar feelings but due to some circumstances, I could not find out more and join. Last semester I came across an e-mail from the RIT chapter of Toastmasters. I was keen on attending a meeting but unfortunately, the timings of their weekly sessions coincided with classes so I was not able to take part.

This semester I happen to be free during their meetings so finally in the 5th week, I got myself to go for a session of Tiger Tales Toastmaster Club. I walked in apprehensively, got greeted at the door by a smiling greeter (I found out later that one member is assigned to be a “greeter” each session) who realized almost immediately that I was a newcomer and patiently walked me through the sign-in process, handed me a copy of the day’s agenda, and found me a spot.

It was 6:28 PM and the session was scheduled to start at 6:30 PM. I saw people walking around chatting with others so I expected a delay in proceedings. I could not have been more wrong. At exactly 6:30 PM, the “opener” walked up to the front of the room, banged the gavel, and started speaking. And just like that, everything was engrossed in what was being said. I found out that there was a pre-decided theme of the day, which on that day was “realization”. The “opener” spoke for a couple of minutes about it, giving the audience his view on what realization meant to him. It was short, yet informative. At 6:33 PM, he introduced the “toastmaster” for the evening, whose primary task from then onwards was conducting the meeting. The toastmaster then welcomed all members and paid special attention to the guests for the evening. The guests, or newcomers as I would call us, were given a quick overview of how Toastmasters works, how their goal is to promote public speaking and to help anyone hone their speaking skills. He introduced several key positions for the evening, a person oversaw time-keeping, another one kept track of the grammar being used, while another person counted the number of times a speaker used filler words (“ah”, “umm”, “like”).

And then the session got underway properly. There was a range of speakers for the day; one was doing his first Toastmasters’ speech, while another one was practicing to participate in an international Toastmasters competition. There was also a section where open questions were asked and anyone in attendance could go up and answer. This addressed the impromptu part of public speaking and served as a perfect complement to the previous section where speakers gave prepared speeches.

In the end, the meeting was concluded by reviews given by the “timer”, the “ah-counter”, the “grammarian”, and the general evaluator. Each person’s comments were well-appreciated and applauded. There was even a small prize given to the person who gave the best answer for the open question section.

The last thing that the president of the club did before adjourning the session was to speak to the guests of the evening and made us give our two cents about the experience. I absolutely loved the whole thing and made sure that everyone knew how much I enjoyed.

I would love to join the club and learn the art of public speaking from others and was thoroughly impressed by the ease with which each speaker spoke and the way all constructive criticism was given and taken. I cannot wait to go back next week and I hope that this will be an enriching experience for me going forward.

The Minimalist Journey

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

It was the onset of Fall, and I had already decided to move from my off-campus apartment to someplace with better commute options to RIT. I hadn’t decided where, but, I knew I was moving out. My mind was already prepared for shifting, and slowly, I started sensing the materialistic possessions around me. My closet was overflowing; the drawer was full of random stuff, the shelves brimming, and random piles of boxes in the storage area. A thought crossed my mind; I can never fit all that in the three suitcases I came with. And just then the Minimalism video I had watched a few months ago popped into my head.

I binge watched few videos on Minimalism, and I felt connected with this idea because there was so much clutter around me, it was just too much. I went through my entire room and the apartment to remove things I didn’t need anymore. While I was at it, I realized three major causes of my situation, two of which are prevalent to other students too.

Of course, the first is bringing 3 FULL medium size suitcases along with me. It was the first time I was moving out of my house to live independently, and I thought, I needed All my stuff. Almost all incoming international graduate students I came across, were carrying that much belongings and that’s where the problem lies – normalizing the fact that we will need so much stuff.

As far as you are not moving to a remote island, you can buy things as you need. That brings us to the second cause – Students buy things, a lot of things. Though we brought so many clothes, we are going to buy clothes pertaining to trends in the new city. Something else we students buy a lot is electronics and gadgets to ease our life. For this, I would ask you to go through your online order history and analyze if you have extensively utilized all the products you ever bought. The third issue in my case is that I was a hoarder. I wasn’t good at letting go the things.

Well, this journey helped me to downsize heavily on the overwhelming materialistic possessions. I learned two lessons: one, what I really need and two, let go what I don’t need. Minimalism doesn’t mean to live with very few items, but, it means to live with things you really need. Minimalism was not a journey, it’s a lifestyle for me and I’m still exercising it.

My $0.02 to the students who will move to a new place for graduate studies is to carry just a suitcase and (maybe) a half of essential stuff. Buy the necessities as you adjust to your new life, but remember you may move to another city soon, so don’t hoard a lot.

It’s the Year of the Dog!

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

Last Friday marked the beginning of the celebrations for the Chinese New Year (aka Chinese Spring Festival), and it lasted through this Sunday, Feb 18th, at RIT. RIT Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) held a Chinese New Year Celebration Gala on Sunday night. The Chinese Zodiac is made up of 12 different animals and each of them gets an outing every dozen years. 2018 is a Year of the Dog.

Lunar New Year is always the most important and traditional festival of the year in Chinese culture, and we were so pleasantly surprised and glad that RIT president, David C. Munson Jr., also showed up at the event with his family and showed to support for the Chinese international students. During the event, we had performances including Chinese folk dance, rap, crosstalk and comedic skits. We were also honored to invite our well-liked admissions counselor, David Wivell, to give a welcome speech at the beginning of the Gala. Additionally, lottery drawing also drew the attention of the audience. The biggest prize that was given was an Amazon Fire Tablet.

In case you were wondering, Chinese people usually celebrate Spring Festival by having reunion dinner with family and watching Chinese Near Year Gala on TV. In general, people from the North prefer to make and eat dumplings on Chinese New Year’s Eve, and those from the South will eat spring rolls or sticky rice cake. This year I got to have the large banquet with all of my classmates in my program. It was a bit like a potluck, where people bring various dishes and snacks. But meanwhile, we also handmade dumplings, hotpot and other meat dishes for everyone to share. This New Year feast meant a lot to most of the kids in the program since it’s their first experience of Chinese New Year oversea.

For me, Chinese New Year is more like a celebration of friendship and Chinese culture now because it has been 8 years since I got back home for the Lunar New Year. Although I miss the feeling of having a big dinner with my family, I’m pleased that there’s always a new year atmosphere during the Lunar New Year time in the U.S., and I’m super proud of this unique experience and culture that I have. Happy New Year of the Dog everyone! 新年快乐 (Happy New Year in Chinese, pronounced Xīn Nián Kuài Lè/sheen nian kwai luh)!

 

Government of the people, by the people and for the people

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

It was just another snowy day at RIT and I was having a conversation with my roommate about some food that is being thrown out by dining services at the end of the day. It deeply saddened me to hear food being wasted and I wanted to do something about it. After asking around I heard about the Student Government who is a part of the governing body at RIT which makes policies and votes on them along with Staff Council and Academic Senate. Their mission reads “To represent the interests of the student body through the implementation of innovative programs, services, and initiatives that enrich student lives. We will be the primary source of advocacy for students from Rochester Institute

of Technology and we will utilize our shared governance structure to voice student opinion and concern. RIT Student Government will be the forefront of change within the university.”

I was deeply intrigued by this and felt they would be the best people to talk to about my concern and I did end up talking to them about it. It was a great interaction and that is my first interaction with Student Government. In the next few months I kept learning more and more about them and felt very passionate about the change they are bringing about at RIT. Then came the wonderful day when I saw that they were accepting applications for different elected position in the Student Government. My eyes finally fell upon the Graduate Senator position and understood that the position is of a representative for the graduate students at RIT. After an intense month of campaigning and elections I have successfully won the elections and started in my role. As I went about in the role, I understood the kind of impact that Student Government has in the university. On a weekly basis, I work with the various Graduate Directors in order to discuss the new
programs that are being proposed by the departments and also propose any changes required to the graduate student policies. Apart from that I work with the different graduate student advocacy groups to address graduate student concerns like housing, transportation, etc. Also, I work with President Munson on the University Council where we discuss and vote on various university policy changes.

The presence of Student Government in the University Council ensures representatives who will be looking out for the best interests of students on the council. The impact that my work has on the students and various other stakeholders makes me feel more responsible to the role I have been elected to at RIT. Today as I write this blog I feel proud to be a student of RIT where students are given importance in policy making and this proves that indeed the school cares about its students genuinely and takes their opinions. I see the RIT Student Government as the Government of the students, by the students and for the students and glad to be a part of it.

 

A focus on fitness

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

School can be taxing, both physically and mentally. As our minds stress our bodies tend to stress and breakdown as well. Life becomes a constant struggle to balance good grades, proper rest, and social interaction. On top of that, many students are usually involved in some sort of part time or full-time job. As a 1st year Grad Student I have paid my dues, thus I know firsthand how busy life can get. We end up so overwhelmed by the things we need to get done that we will often neglect to take care of ourselves. I know what you’re thinking. “This guy better not tell me that I should be working out.” Well I won’t say that exactly, but I will say that we should all be taking time to build healthy habits and take care of our bodies. Consider it a long-term investment, just as our studies are.

Mental and physical health are interconnected as study after study shows. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you function better in your studies, and your profession. I know that the idea of even stepping into the gym or making time to work out seems crazy, but there are other things that you can do to start building better habits.

First step is to get up and move throughout the day. I don’t mean like walking from class to class. I mean frequent stretches throughout studying and working. If you can switch it up and work while standing for a bit, give it a shot. Dr. James Levine is credited with the mantra “sitting is the new smoking”. He has studied the adverse effects of our lifestyles for years and is known for inventing the treadmill desk. Because of his extensive studies Dr. Levine declared “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” I encourage you to look him up and read further into it if you have time.

Another step to take to boost your physical health is sweating. I know it sounds a bit gross but sweating has many positive impacts on the human body. Sweating can boost your overall mood and improve mental focus. This can come in the form of working out, or even using RIT’s sauna. Dr. Rhonda Patrick, a health specialist, has studied the effects of physical exertion on the human body. She found a correlation with sweating and mood, productivity, and longevity. She also found that sitting in a sauna provides the same benefits. She encourages people to sit in a sauna 3-5 times a week to boosts overall health. RIT has a sauna available to all students in the Fitness center locker rooms. Although working out provides you with more benefits then the sauna, if you don’t have time to work out try taking some time in the sauna as an alternative.

Other steps you can take to start increasing your physical health are just as easy as the last two. Start by setting small goals and try to hit them each week. Generally, a rule of thumb for remaining active is trying to walk 10,000 steps a day. We all carry our phones with us most of the time, so this shouldn’t be too hard to track. Another step is mapping out a workout plan and trying to get into the gym 2 to 3 times a week. Even if it’s just a quick 10-minute workout, it’ll help build the habit. Lastly be more mindful of your sugar intake and what you are eating. You don’t need to be on a hardcore diet to be healthier. Simply removing soda products, eating a few more vegetables, or not eating late night snacks can help. Whatever you do, implement it in small increments. You might find that it is easier to start forming new habits if you take it slowly rather than trying it all at once. Focus on hitting one or two goals a month, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they become part of your lifestyle.

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.

 

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! ☺