Carnegie Mellon University
October 28, 2021

Graduate Student Events Provide Connections and Fun

By Kirsten Heuring

Stacy W. Kish
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 412-268-9309

Following more than a year on Zoom, graduate students have not had the time to bond and interact like they did pre-COVID. The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences has developed a series of in-person social events for students around the college to engage in a fun way.

Jen Loughran, the assistant director of graduate programs in the English Department, explained why these events are so necessary.

“I think the importance of the graduate student social events, along with the professionalization series, is to build a stronger community within the Dietrich College [for] graduate students,” said Loughran. “It gives them an opportunity to bond outside the classroom and research, or to give an outside perspective to an idea on a paper or an assignment. In addition to building networks, mentorships and friendships, the social events give students time to take a break from their academics and reset.”

In September, the English Department hosted an adults-only bingo night. The three winners each received a Dietrich College-branded blanket. 

“Filled with good people, good activities, sweet prizes and healthy competition spirit, the bingo night was an excellent experience to get to know the people in the other programs and to have some fun with them,” said Tomas Suarez Omedas, a neuroscience Ph.D. student. “I took with me a good group of new connections, as well as a very comfortable prize blanket that I use now on a daily basis. I am looking forward to sharing more experiences with the people from Dietrich, and I am sure that the welcoming, warm spirit will be there every single time.”

The event also helped students reorient back into a social setting.

“I think these events are a great chance to get used to in-person interactions again,” said Nicole Tanquary, a Ph.D. student in rhetoric.  “Non-academic personal relationships are important, too, and events like these are great for meeting folks who might be going through similar struggles in their academic lives.”

On Oct. 22, the Psychology Department hosted a family-friendly pumpkin carving and painting event coordinated by Erin Donahoe, the psychology department graduate student program manager. Nearly 50 people attended, enjoying the festive fall activities and snacks. One lucky winner of the Best Decorated Pumpkin contest received two tickets to Kennywood. 

The next event will be a grad student boardgame night on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 5:00-7:00 PM, hosted by the Statistics and Data Science Department. The event is now accepting registration.

Loughran said Dietrich College departments are planning to host more gatherings in the future.

“We encourage students to let us know [about ideas for future events] because we're going to be planning events every month, and each department is going to be coordinating one,” said Loughran.

Loughran recommends that students email Sharon Carver with further suggestions, and she hinted that other ideas include trivia night and a painting night. 

“Bingo was first, and I'm excited to see what other events we can plan that will bring together all the students in the college,” said Loughran. “We've had that virtual year, [and] I think it's so important to be on campus and to do these things in person.”