Monmouth University is celebrating Graduate Student Appreciation Week from April 7 to April 17.
Darrell Peterson, Associate Vice Provost of Graduate Student Services, and Erica Turtz, his graduate assistant, are responsible for organizing the week-long event. According to Turtz the events that will take place include Grads Give Back, Wellness Day Professional Headshot Photos, Graduate Assistant Reception, Grab & Go Giveaway, Happy Hour, Escape the Puzzle, and De-Stress for Success.
“We understand that graduate students are very busy, so we wanted to maximize the number of students who would be able to participate by offering a variety of opportunities,” said Peterson.
Grads Give Back took place on April 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Lunch Break, a non-profit soup kitchen, food pantry, and clothing donation center in Red Bank. “A group of graduate students (and myself and Darrell) will be volunteering at Lunch Break,” said Turtz. “We may be asked to prepare food, wash dishes, clean tables, shelve food in pantries, and organize clothing.”
On April 8, students participated in Wellness Day at the Graduate Center, which ran from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and was sponsored by the Counseling Student Association. Alanna Cosgrove, the treasurer for the organization, was responsible for organizing the event. According to Cosgrove, the schedule included yoga, chakra bowls, lunch, massage/Reiki, Infinite Possibilities training, and essential oils teaching.
“Reiki is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch to activate the natural healing process of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being,” said Cosgrove.
Infinite Possibilities is a motivational lecture. “This course will give you the tools to take the steps to start the momentum of manifesting your desires,” Cosgrove continued.
Professional headshot photos, according to Turtz, were taken in Wilson Hall on April 9 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Graduate Assistant Reception also took place on April 9, held in Wilson Hall’s Pompeii Room from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The event included an appreciation reception for all graduate assistants and supervisors. The Grab & Go Giveaway was held on April 10 in Pozycki Hall from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and in the Graduate Center from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.. According to Turtz, there were raffles for large baskets and smaller give-away gifts for students who stopped by.
Happy Hour, according to the graduate assistant, is an RSVP-required celebration for graduate students on April 13 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Jack’s Goal Line Stand in Long Branch. On April 15 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Escape the Puzzle is another RSVP-required event that will comprise of “fun and exciting puzzle games followed by lunch at a local restaurant (to be determined),” says Turtz. This will be held at Escape the Puzzle in Long Branch.
According to Turtz, De-Stress for Success is the final event for Graduate Student Appreciation Week and falls on April 17 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Chair massages will give students the opportunity to relax and “de-stress” at the Graduate Center before finals week.
Organizing the event was heavy lifting for Peterson and Turtz. “We spent time checking websites and calling around to various establishments in the area for availability and pricing,” said Peterson. “Sometimes we just weren’t able to make everything fit together. For example, we thought of going to one of the local apple orchards, however, some locations were not open on the weekends, while those that were open were a bit too far away.”
This wasn’t the only obstacle that the two confronted. “We considered bus trips to NYC or Philadelphia to visit some of their main attractions, however, either cost or time became a factor,” said Peterson.
According to Peterson, institutions across the country have celebrated Graduate-Professional Student Appreciation Week during the first week of April each year since 1993. “The week was designated as a time to emphasize the contributions, impact and value of graduate and professional students on campuses throughout the United States,” he said.
Though it wasn’t easy, Turtz and Peterson are satisfied with the work that they’ve accomplished. “I believe that, together, we made a great team, always putting graduate students as our top priority to ensure they receive the appreciation they deserve,” said Turtz, who will be graduating in May of 2019.
“It is indeed a lot of work to organize all these things with just two people,” said Peterson. “However, we are thrilled with what we have been able to develop to show appreciation for our amazing graduate students.”
“I wanted to go to a few of [the events], but I have obligations off campus that conflict with the times of the events,” said Emily Sakowski, a student in the corporate and public communication (CPC) graduate program. “I think it’s a really great initiative though and am grateful the school is recognizing Monmouth graduate students.”