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They arrive on campus when most undergraduates are finishingclasses for the day–most having already put in a full day’s work. They eat onthe fly, and many, when they leave campus at 9 p.m., return home to familyresponsibilities. How does a university make graduate students feel comfortableand welcomed? It creates an award-winning Collegium program and hires graduatestudents to oversee the programming. A winning combination in which the spacesfill a need for non-tradition students, and provide current graduate studentsmeaningful, hands-on job experience.
There are five Collegium spaces housed in various buildingson campus designed as a “home-away-from-home” for students who don’t reside oncampus. Each Collegium is designated for a specific group of students—forexample the Reidy Collegium is for commuter juniors and seniors majoring inscience, engineering and nursing.
Graduate students have a collegium space on the first floorof Hunthausen. The McGoldrick Collegium, open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., welcomesgraduate students, military veterans and non-traditional undergraduates who are25 or older. Students can renewthemselves between classes, meet with classmates and faculty in a relaxedsetting, have conversations with friends and enjoy a snack or special activity.There is a full kitchen, inviting furniture, reading lamps and a large tablefor working or playing one of the many board games available. The kitchen is stocked with an honor bar thatoffers snacks and grab-n-go small meals that can be popped in the microwave. Asmall refrigerator is also available.
Each Collegium is staffed by undergraduate and graduatestudent workers, and the coordinator for each Collegium is a StudentDevelopment Administration Graduate Assistant who comes to campus early inSeptember for an intensive training program. The Graduate Assistants plan themesand activities for the year such as pancake breakfasts, career counselingnights and wellness demonstrations.
Brian Wasserman, a first-year SDA student, is thecoordinator of the McGoldrick Collegium this academic year. The studentassistants in McGoldrick are COE graduate students: Annie Zhou, SchoolPsychology, and Carlos Sibaja-Garcia, TESOL.
“The Collegia started when the administration heard thatcommuter students were eating lunch in their cars,” said Wasserman. “I was acommuter student as an undergraduate, so I could relate to this. We have torealize that this is as much their campus as it is anyone’s.”
SDA Graduate Assistants who are coordinators for the other Collegia on campus include: James Spaan, Sha’terika Perkins and KaitlynEhlers.
“I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of thestudent population here,” said Ehlers.
“We have to be aware of and understand the differences inthe students at the university,” said Spaan. “We are providing a place wherethey can be engaged in the campus culture and be connected.”
“This is a great experience for SDA students who, asprofessionals, will need to recognize that the population they serve on acampus can include a wide variety of students who are having differentexperiences and are engaged at varying levels,” said Erin Swezey, coordinatorof internships for the SDA program.
There are approximately 36 Graduate Students from the SDAprogram working as Graduate Assistants on the Seattle University campus.
“The GA experience in the Collegia is a win-win situationfor the University,” said Swezey. “While our students are helping other studentshave a great experience and engage in the university, they are gaining valuableknowledge and skills that will make them better professionals in the field.”
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