Grad Groups is Georgia Tech’s extended orientation program for new graduate students. Navigating the nuances of graduate school can be challenging, so don’t embark on this journey alone.
Our office, in partnership with the Graduate Student Government Association (Grad SGA), sponsors the program, which provides opportunities for networking with other new graduate students from across campus and exposure to valuable campus resources that you may not otherwise be aware of.
Participants are organized into groups of about 15 students from a variety of degree programs, academic interests, and cultural backgrounds. Each group is led by a senior graduate student, which allows participants to tap into their Group Leader’s valuable experience and leverage that for their own success. (See below for the names and bios of our fall 2017 Group Leaders.)
During meetings, representatives from various campus departments give brief presentations on topics including career development and planning, maximizing the advisor/advisee relationship, stress and time management, and maintaining work/life balance.
Raunak Bhattacharyaa, Ph.D student, Aerospace Engineering
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein
Prior to starting grad school at Georgia Tech, Raunak received his B.Tech. in aerospace engineering with a minor in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Raunak gives the following advice to incoming graduate students, "Georgia Tech is about creating the next. Each and every one of you is here because you have the capability and the drive to tackle the world's most challenging problems. Grad Groups is here to help you get a head start to take on these challenges and make a smooth transition into Tech. Be it campus resources, career advising, networking, or simply having people to brainstorm on the next big ideas with, Grad Groups is here for you."
Kaikai Che, Ph.D. student, Mechanical Engineering
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” — Steve Jobs
Before coming to Georgia Tech, Kaikai got his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. His current research is focused on design and experiments on multistable metamaterials that can have acoustic and photonic applications. As a Group Leader for the third time, Kaikai advises new graduate students to join the Grad Groups and get familiar with all the resources provided on campus. "In Grad Groups, new graduate students can learn how to balance life and work, deal with conflicts, and start career planning," he said. "All these can help you quickly get accustomed to graduate life at Georgia Tech and plan for your future."
Anant Girdhar, Ph.D. student, Aerospace Engineering
“See I got GPS on my phone." — Jon Bellion, Human | "But if you don't, look for 'the pencil.' ” — Georgia Tech community
Anant attended the Indian Institute of Technology Madras to obtain an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering. He believes that an educational environment is one of the best places to learn. There is a greater degree of freedom to make mistakes and grow from them and there are many people around who are willing to walk with you. Unfortunately, graduate school can be set up to be highly insular and rigid at times making it very important to find a good support system. This is the key purpose of Grad Groups: to introduce you to campus resources, learn from others' successes and failures, and come de-stress with other grad students.
Atticus Huberts, master's student, Industrial Design
“Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin
Atticus graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of Virginia in 2012. Following his graduation, he started his career in the biomedical research field and has since transitioned into the world of industrial design (product design). "I think it's important every so often to take a step back and examine the bigger picture. Grad school, and especially research, can take you deep into a rabbit hole if you let it. Graduate education isn't just about academic prowess, it’s about growing as a person and as a professional. Network, learn about new fields, and broaden your life experience. You may be surprised at how this can enhance the quality of your work.”
Ramy Imam, master's student, Mechanical Engineering
Ramy Imam holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the American University in Cairo and is currently working on his master’s in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. As a first time Group Leader, Ramy is very excited to help new students to take advantage of their time at Georgia Tech and Atlanta. He offers the following advice to new grad students: “Explore what Georgia Tech has to offer. It is going to be overwhelming sometimes, but if you manage your time wisely you will be able to excel and thrive at Tech. If you made it here, it means you can make it anywhere, and remember you will always be ‘a hell of an engineer.’”
Shivangi Jain, Ph.D. student, Psychology
“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw
Shivangi completed her undergraduate and master’s degree from University of Allahabad, India and is now a Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology. Shivangi believes that Grad Groups is a valuable resource for new graduate students. "It is a great starting point to know more about Georgia Tech — its traditions, campus resources, and work culture — to connect with other students, and to learn interesting things about Atlanta," she said. Shivangi recommends that incoming graduate students manage time efficiently, work smarter, and most importantly, enjoy the experience of being a grad student.
Sophie Kay, Ph.D. student, Psychology
“Always find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive.” — Unknown
Sophie grew up in Cedar Grove, NJ and earned her bachelor's in psychology from The College of New Jersey in 2014. As a student who struggled with impostor syndrome during her first year (and at other times since then), she likes to remind herself and others that if you got accepted into your program, that means you can do it. Her expert advice to new students would be to make time for things that make you happy while in graduate school and try not to feel guilty when you're not doing work.
Sophie Kim, Ph.D. student, Chemical Engineering
“Your life will be full of setbacks — how you handle them will make all the difference.” — Barack Obama
Before coming to Georgia Tech, Sophie attended Rice University and majored in Chemical Engineering. While Sophie is originally from Korea, she has also lived in China, Slovakia, and America and developed interests in diversity and different cultures. Through Grad Group, Sophie hopes to help incoming graduate students, especially those from foreign countries, during their acclimation process to Georgia Tech. Her advice for an incoming graduate student is: “expect to feel lost and out of place for a bit. Believe it or not, almost everyone in graduate school has felt this way at some point, and you will eventually succeed even when you don’t think so.”
Richard Li, master's student, Computer Science
“If something is important enough, you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.” — Elon Musk
Richard grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and earned his undergraduate degree in computer science before continuing into the master's program. His research revolves around using machine learning and artificial intelligence to make wearable devices more useful and practical. As a first time Group Leader, Richard is very excited about the prospect of showing new students all the opportunities Georgia Tech and Atlanta has to offer. He offers the following advice to new grad students: be uncomfortable and don't be afraid to explore in all aspects of life; physical and emotional health come first, even when they're easy to forget; breathe, smile and embrace the world with open arms.
Laura Mast, Ph.D. student, Civil and Environmental Engineering
“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” — Vince Lombardi
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Laura earned a degree in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University before beginning her PhD in environmental engineering at Georgia Tech. She thinks being in grad school is awesome: “There are so many opportunities and resources at Georgia Tech, no matter what your post-grad path, you can find activities here that’ll set you up for success.” Grad Groups is a great way to learn about professional resources on campus, but she also encourages new students to check out GradExpo - that’s how she discovered her love of swing dancing with the GT Dance Association!
Colton Moran, Ph.D. student, Chemical Engineering
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” — Jerry Rice
Before Georgia Tech, Colton attended Ohio University, a large liberal arts college, where he was a student in a smaller engineering college. The most important tip he gives anyone in graduate school is to realize that graduate school is not your life. "It is a large and very important portion of your life, but it does not define you and it should not consume all of your time — it will if you let it," he said. "Grad Groups allows you to have access to resources and knowledge on how to kick start your life here in Atlanta, as well as how to succeed in your graduate-level work. Don’t forget — the hard work you are putting in today is setting you up for a life of well-earned success!"
Shannon Owings, Ph.D. student, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
“The best things in life aren't things” — Art Buchwald
Shannon is a graduate student in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department. She grew up in Maryland and got a BS in Chemistry at the University of Delaware. She recommends to new students to remember the passions and “the why” that lead you to grad school to get through the stressful times. She thinks Grad Groups are beneficial because it’s a chance to build relationships with other new students and Grad Groups is a place to get to know all the resources Tech offers to help students through the grad school process.
Sean Rodrigues, Ph.D. student, Electrical and Computer Engineering
“We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people's lives.” — Robert M. Pirsig
Sean is a Massachusetts native, who went to school at the University of Rochester. If you're interested in learning about Sean's research, check out his website. A general tip he gives new students is to associate yourself with the resources that are available on campus as soon as you can. The more knowledge and utilization you have of your environment, the easier it'll be to succeed. And finally, work through enjoyment.
Brandon Sharp, Ph.D. student, Chemistry and Biochemistry
“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” — Salvador Dali
Brandon graduated with an undergraduate degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. He thinks older graduate students are an invaluable resource to younger students, so you shouldn't be afraid to ask older grad students any questions you may have. "As grad students themselves, they’ve been through the same things and they are usually more than willing to offer advice," he said. "Grad Groups is the perfect place for you to find and interact with older grad students, especially during your first semester when you probably haven't had the opportunity to meet many."
Renee Shelby, Ph.D. student, History and Sociology
“All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation.” — Walter Benjamin
Renee earned a bachelor's in sociology and a master's in sociology and public health at Georgia State University (GSU). Her advice to incoming graduate students is to reach out, not freak out! "Graduate school can be an isolating experience, but it does not have to be. Making connections with other graduate students, finding joy outside of campus, and taking care of one’s self are vital to positive graduate life," Renee said. "We are all very impassioned about improving the graduate experience at Georgia Tech. Grad Groups will help you make those early connections and ease your transition on campus."
Juliana Soto-Giron, Ph.D. student, Bioinformatics
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” — Van Gogh
Juliana comes from Colombia, and has a bachelor's degree in Biology from Universidad del Valle and a master's degree in Molecular Biology from University of Puerto Rico. Currently, Juliana is investigating bacterial pathogens associated with human infectious diseases using metagenomic-based technologies. Juliana's advice to new students is to prioritize work, organize your time, and do activities you enjoy because this will help you to balance stress. Grad Groups is the space where you can find answers about grad life and campus resources and meet students from around the world.
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