As you transition into graduate school, you’ll start to notice how truly different it is from your time as an undergrad. One major difference that you might discover is the lack of diversity in your friend group. This deficiency will not necessarily be in age, race or sex, but rather in academic and career interests. In other words, your friends will probably all be from the same program, your program. It only makes sense. With the extended amount of time you stay on campus, you become close with the people that study, work, and research at the same time and in the same discipline as you. The fact is that there’s not the opportunity to casually meet people like there was in undergrad.
Enter, the Graduate School Association (GSA). Throughout the year, GSA hosts events that give graduate students a chance to relax and to meet one another outside of the classroom, lab, or library. These events are extremely valuable, especially if you listen to the advice that most students and faculty will announce during your first weeks: meet people outside of your program (because we all need an outlet sometimes). The family-friendly activities include football tailgates, appreciation picnics, and discount days at the Farmer’s Market. However, one of the organization’s most popular events doesn’t even take place on land or include the ultimate marketing tactic of free food (although there was a $1 off Pokey-O’s perk that most certainly did not go unused).
Grads on the Water is an amazing event that brings Baylor’s graduate school population closer to the city of Waco. Partnering with Bicycle World, who merged with Outdoor Waco a few years ago, students have the opportunity to rent a kayak, paddle board, or canoe to freely explore the Brazos River. The rental fee, which is usually $20/hour, was completely covered by GSA for the entire three-hour event. Because of the beautiful (below 100˚) summer’s day, this year’s Grads on the Water was extremely successful. Over 100 graduate students, with their families and friends, paddled under the historic Suspension Bridge while the Alico Building towered in the background and kayaked past the columns of the university’s McLane Stadium and foul poles of the Turner Athletic Complex.
Events such as Grads on the Water provide an opportunity not only to meet the other 2,000 Baylor graduate students, but to realize your similarities go far behind the classroom. We all go to Baylor. We all live in Waco. We all want the most out of this experience and out of our time here. Among many other things, GSA helps us realize those likenesses, which may be the group’s most important achievement.
By Matthew Doyen