Outside of being a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UVA, I aim to actively engage with students in and outside of the classroom to spark interest in a range of science topics. In the past, I’ve developed a two-week course for middle-school students called “The Cool Cryosphere!” as part of the Summer Enrichment Program through UVA’s School of Education. Additionally, I have previously been a guest speaker for K-12 Environmental Science classrooms. If you’re interested in having me visit your class or are looking for teaching resources on Earth systems or the cryosphere, reach out to me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) — I’m happy to share what I’ve found and developed!
Community-based work towards diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the Department of Environmental Sciences (EVSC) at UVA has been some of the most important work I’ve been involved with in my academic career. I have been a graduate student member of the department’s DEI committee since its inception in Fall 2020. Recent changes to practice, culture, and documentation in my department have been student led, both in the DEI committee and by the Graduate Student Association (GSA). Some of the wins that have helped create a more equitable department, which will in-turn support students from minoritized groups in the Geosciences, include: removal of the GRE requirement for graduate study admission, development of a departmental mission statement and code of conduct, and development of a mentorship agreement template.
So much more work needs to be done to create positive shifts in exclusionary academic culture. Part of this is making the “implicit” aspects of our institutions more “explicit”. One aspect of my department’s GSA that I appreciate is the active unveiling of this “hidden curriculum”. Developing “FAQs” and graduate student support systems for students going through comprehensive exams, making preference lists for teaching assignments, and engaging with department leadership to have a graduate student engagement in faculty hires are only a few of the actions that have made the UVA EVSC community a more friendly place to students.
If you are seeking to make similar changes in your department, organize with fellow graduate students, or have suggestions, I am always happy to listen and share resources and ideas.