SOE News

School of Education graduate students gather to discuss their futures as educators at the Emergent Scholars Symposium

L to R: Karyl Askew, prospective student and Billye Rhodes


L to R: Helen Crompton, Dr. Jeff Greene, Dr. Nick Cabot and Jeremy Hilburn


L to R: Alumni Heather Coffey, Daniella Cook and Steve Amendum

The School of Education’s Graduate Student Association hosted the Fifth Annual Research Symposium on Jan. 29 in Peabody Hall. Graduate students and faculty gathered for a day of panels and round-table discussions covering a wide variety of topics. The symposium was designed to join graduate students and faculty from all of the graduate programs to promote scholarship and build community.

With the theme “Emergent Scholars,” the symposium intended, according to the purpose statement, to create “a dialogue that, with faculty support, will foster professionalism, efficacy, and collaboration among graduate students.” Hour-long sessions were held addressing the topics of publishing, diversity, conference preparation, professional preparation and comprehensive exams. Each discussion featured panel members who answered questions, gave advice from personal experiences, and encouraged group dialogue.

The publishing discussion allowed graduate students to ask the panelists questions about their research and requirements for publishing exemplary papers.

During the dissertation discussion, panelists shared information about the different stages of the dissertation process and addressed students’ questions and concerns.

The professional preparation discussion focused on planning for life after graduate school. The panelists were graduates of the School of Education who provided information about the job search process, interviews and professional development.

Two diversity sessions were held ─ one from the faculty perspective and the other from the student perspective. The student diversity session featured graduate student panelists Karyl Askew, Dwight Irvin, Yanjun Liu, Kathleen Rands, Billye Rhodes and Seung Yu. The panelists discussed personal experiences they had had with gender, class, race and sexuality in the academy. An open and active conversation was held between the students and panelists.

“The [student diversity] discussion was helpful because it provided a place for people to share,” said Billye Rhodes, a panel member and first-year Ph.D. student in Culture, Curriculum and Change. “I feel there are some spaces where we can’t have these conversations. It was great to hear others’ experiences with diversity outside my own.”

Two “speed networking” sessions were also held, providing an opportunity for graduate students to meet with professors to discuss research interests and ask questions. Faculty members were seated at separate tables, and students talked with different faculty members every five minutes. Nineteen faculty members participated in the speed networking sessions, including Dean Bill McDiarmid.

The co-chairs of this year’s symposium were Mary Bratsch and Betsy Humphreys, both third-year Ph.D. students in Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy. Symposium Committee members were Beth Bader, Corliss Brown, Peg Carmody, Helen Crompton, Jeremy Hilburn, Katherine Ohle, Jessica Powell, Deborah Randolph, Stacy Ruse and Seung Yu.

Co-chair Mary Bratsch said of the event, “The Symposium Committee wanted to address the processes involved in obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree in order to help students on the path to becoming active participants in the academic community. Because of the large faculty and student participation, we were able to accomplish this goal successfully.”

Feedback from symposium attendees indicated that they enjoyed the informal dialogue and community building among students and faculty. Overall, faculty and students felt that the symposium was enjoyable and a productive use of their time.

The School of Education Graduate Student Association has decided that in the future they will host the symposium every other year. The symposium will alternate years with the hosting of the Southeastern Association on Educational Studies (SEAES) Conference, which is also held on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus every other year.