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From the Dean

From the Dean

From the Dean: November 2023

Dean Esters


November is here, which means the end of the semester is right around the corner. I hope that the first part of the semester has been productive for you and that you have been finding ways to grow your skills, knowledge, and expertise.   

The end of the semester can bring additional stress for graduate students, and there are many ways that you can plan for and manage this. One way is through intentional self-care. With all the demands of graduate school, it can be easy to focus so much on your projects and course work that you forget to take a second to reflect on your well-being. For any students interested in exploring new ways to foster improved well-being, I encourage you to attend the November 1 Graduate Student Self-Care Fair, which is being organized by Jacqueline Jones, associate director of graduate student life and well-being in the Graduate School. There, you can learn new techniques for self-care and connect with some of the University offices that specialize in this area of support.   

I have heard from many graduate students who are feeling more stress from the conflicts in the Middle East. It’s a challenging time for all of us, no matter where we are from or what perspectives we have. Please know that Penn State cares deeply about all its students. There are many options for finding support, which are listed below this message. If there is anything that the Graduate School can do to support you specifically, please reach out with your questions and comments.   

In closing my November message, I'd like to offer a crucial strategy for success during your graduate school journey: Cultivate Meaningful Relationships. Building and nurturing strong connections is not only vital during your time in graduate school but will continue to benefit you throughout your entire career. When reflecting on my own experience in graduate school, I attribute a significant part of my success to the relationships I developed with mentors, peers, faculty members, staff, administrators, and many others. At Penn State, you're part of a diverse and supportive community eager to see you thrive. I encourage you to actively seek out and foster these relationships. To assist you in this endeavor, here are some practical relationship-building strategies that have proven effective and are worth considering: 

1. Open and Honest Communication: Maintain open and honest communication with everyone you interact with during your academic journey. This includes your advisors, peers, support staff, and anyone who can contribute to your growth. Sharing your thoughts, concerns, and goals will help in building trust and understanding. 

2. Be Present: Being present means more than just physically showing up. It involves actively engaging in academic and social activities. Listen attentively during discussions, contribute your unique insights, and show a genuine interest in others' perspectives. This attentiveness can foster deeper connections with your peers and mentors. 

3. Seek Opportunities to Share Your Scholarship: Actively look for opportunities to share your research and scholarly work. Presenting your work at conferences, seminars, or within your academic community not only enhances your profile but also provides a platform for engaging with peers and faculty. This engagement can lead to meaningful collaborations and connections. 

4. Mentorship: Seeking mentors is a key step in navigating the challenges of graduate school and building a successful career. A mentor can offer invaluable guidance, support, and insights, aiding your personal and professional growth. It's also beneficial to cultivate a network of mentors, each specializing in different areas. By assembling a team of mentors, you gain diverse perspectives and expertise, enhancing your overall development and preparedness for the complexities of academia and your future career. 

5. Networking: Attend events, workshops, and gatherings related to your field of study. Networking can introduce you to professionals and peers who share your interests and can be instrumental in your academic and career success. 

6. Participate in Campus Activities: Get involved in campus organizations, clubs, or activities that interest you. This will not only help you build a well-rounded experience but also connect you with like-minded individuals. 

7. Give Back: Be willing to offer your assistance and expertise to others when you can. Sometimes, helping someone else can lead to building unexpected but rewarding relationships. 

Remember that the connections you form during graduate school can have a lasting impact on your academic and professional journey. By actively building and nurturing relationships, you're not only enhancing your time at Penn State but also setting a solid foundation for a successful future." 

As always, please reach out to me at if you have questions.   


levon signature

Levon T. Esters, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School

This page was generated on December 5, 2023 at 10:22 AM local time. This may not be the most recent version of this page. Check the Penn State Graduate School website for updates.