Caitlin Azhderian didn’t have any doubts about coming to Oregon State University for her graduate work, even though it meant leaving a full time job and a dream apartment in downtown Sydney, Australia. In fact, she didn’t apply anywhere else.
She knew that OSU’s College of Education had a strong program in College Student Services Administration, and she was offered an assistantship that paid for her education.
The combination made OSU her ideal choice, and Azhderian said she’s fallen in love with the school since she arrived.
But one thing Azhderian discovered that OSU lacked was a thriving network of support specific to female graduate students.
“There’s a real need here for that niche,” she said, and after becoming inspired by an internship at the OSU Women’s Center, Azhderian decided to take on the creation of such a network herself.
The Graduate Women’s Network will provide advocacy for female graduate students, networking opportunities, and the chance to advance knowledge and skills that can lead to a more successful graduate level experience.
“Graduate school is a funny time, in some ways I have not felt as supported,” as much as she was during her undergraduate experience, she said. During graduate school, women may have a more difficult time finding peer support, funding for education, and finding advice about things like job searches, health care and sometimes, operating in fields predominated by men.
Although the group is in its early stages, Azhderian is already organizing activities including brown bag lunches, speaker panels, and workshop opportunities for graduate students to come together in more informative ways.
As a graduate student herself, Azhderian finds that female students will seek out support in their own departments, but she envisions the network as crossing departmental and college lines, to provide a broader net of support to students from all areas.
“The big focus right now is providing advocacy and support,” for female graduate students, she said.
The program will be housed in the Women’s Center. For more information, see http://oregonstate.edu/womenscenter/gwn.html
~ Theresa Hogue