The Importance of Graduate Assistants

As University students, most of us have come in contact with and formed friendships with the graduate assistants that are employed with the departments or activities that we each choose to participate in as undergraduates.

In theory, these graduate students simply work at the University to help facilitate certain tasks and work to­wards their own higher education. However, does a greater purpose for these graduate assistants exist? In the midst of universities and businesses attempting to downsize their costs, how important is it for the University to employ graduate assistants?

According to The Outlook staff, graduate assistants are much more than just a face in the corner typing away at a computer or performing some mundane task. Instead, it is a give-and-take relationship in which the graduate assistant often takes the place of a teacher. Undergraduate students, who are much closer in age to the graduate students than they would be to one of their own pro­fessors, receive insight from people who were in the same position not too long ago.

It is easy to learn from a graduate student who has “been-there-done-that,” who has already entered the “real world,” has walked away from Monmouth University with a diplo­ma, and who can still be a friend and colleague.

As undergraduates, we are not as close to that “real world” as we may think we are, but our graduate assis­tants serve as our link to what will soon be our own experience. Most of them hold other full-time positions in entry-level jobs that we will soon enter. They can tell us what it is like to make that commute and what will make-or-break our résumé or our next job interview. Sometimes they can even help us break into the field or a certain company themselves.

One of our own past graduate as­sistants, Chris Netta, was incredibly good with graphic design and could take a concept we were considering for a back page or a banner on the front page and seamlessly translate it into a smooth, clean-cut image in less time than it would take the entire Outlook staff to figure out (and we’re not half bad).

With him gone, we have to wander the Internet in search of ways to solve our technological and design issues, which usually are only partially, if it all, successful. We all contribute and toil with Adobe programs to do the work he used to do, although we miss him dearly and wish that we still had his extensive knowledge on our side.

Morganne Firmstone, one of our current graduate assistants and for­mer Outlook Entertainment section editor, has a fantastic aesthetic and editorial eye and we do not even consider publishing The Outlook without her giving it a fine-tuning beforehand. She always has interest­ing ideas for layout design, captions, headlines, or photographs. If anyone ever has an editing or AP style ques­tion, she is always the go-to person. She can always catch mistakes that some of our younger copy editors cannot due to her high level of ex­pertise.

Graduate students are not only utilized by The Outlook, but other departments as well like the Com­munication department, Student Ser­vices, Athletics, and Residential Life to name a few.

As undergraduate students, some of whom are seniors and juniors, we would like to think we “know it all” and we can swiftly and efficiently run an organization. Unfortunately, the truth is that besides our expert advisors and supporters, we also need graduate assistants on our side to help us through the day-by-day is­sues and take us to where our orga­nizations need to be to emerge suc­cessful.

Also, we cannot forget that these positions are not solely to serve the departments and organizations they work for. Without the positions, some graduate students may not be able to afford an MU Master’s degree. It is obvious that there would most likely be fewer enrollments in the graduate programs of a university. With less graduate student enrollment, what will this say about us?

The graduate assistants for The Outlook and other student clubs are adding to what these student-run clubs consist of. They thoroughly en­joy their work and clearly it is more than just a job or a résumé booster.

These are students as well; They deserve a chance at a Master’s de­gree and additional experience in their field of choice so they can bet­ter serve their career when the time comes.


In the April 10, 2013 issue of The Outlook, the picture of Kaleigh Gibbons on page 26 was falsely attributed to MU Photography. Credit belongs to Danielle Richards, not MU Photography.