American Studies Doctoral Student Christina Garcia
This was my first semester participating in the IE internship program, and I enjoyed the opportunity very much. I was introduced to Lily Barrios, the intern I worked with, through a professor we mutually know. Our interests happened to align quite closely, and we got along great, getting to know each other better and better over the semester over cups of tea and coffee at the library. Lily and I plan to continue to work together as she prepares graduate school applications in the coming year. I loved working with Lily, and participating in the program in general, because it's an opportunity to share graduate experiences, both good and bad, and to pass on information and advice that might help a younger student out in their efforts. This is something I try to do as a teaching assistant, but the chance to work with a student one on one, consistently, created a far different experience.
My participation in the IE program been a great opportunity for me to articulate what I have learned from my own experiences, but it has also been a valuable chance for me to learn from another student who has her own particular life experiences to share. It has truly been a reciprocal relationship from which I believe we have both gained much. Working with Lily helped me to stop and think about what I am trying to accomplish as a graduate student, what is most important to me, and the challenges that lie in the process. So much of graduate work, and life itself, is about 'process,' so the chance to strategize and discuss it with another student has helped us both to grow in important directions and to solidify our imperatives.
Another reason that I wanted to participate is because as an undergraduate, I never had people around me who knew about graduate school or offered up any advice to me about it. I'm sure there were administrators I could have spoken with, but as a shy student, I didn't often approach faculty or administration, and they did not approach me. My parents certainly did not have much information to offer me about my options, and as a result, I often feel as if I somewhat stumbled along, with one eye closed and one opened, to the place I find myself now. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to make it as far as I have, and am grateful for all those who stopped to take the time to encourage me. It's important to me to take every chance I can to make the process a bit less mysterious to those who can use my experiences to improve their own. Graduate work is hard enough without the mystery it's often veiled in. Ultimately, it's about strategy, mission, and outlook, and I think that is precisely what Lily and I were able to focus on through this program.