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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Summer 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer
Shawn Warner-Garcia

Mon-Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Writing Peer & Funding Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon, Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Communications Peer
Melissa Rapp

Mon: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Charles Williams

By appointment

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.



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New Resources for Family Students

If you are a grad student with children, the Graduate Division has developed two new resources for you!

Resource #1: GradSpace Page

GradSpace is a resource site for graduate students at UCSB. Currently, it is hosted on GauchoSpace. You'll find information about campus resources for students with children, parent support and education in the community, and childcare resources. Follow these steps to access GradSpace:

  1. Make sure that you have activated your UCSB NetID.
  2. Click here to enroll in the GradSpace community.
  3. Click on the "Family Students" tab.

Resource #2: Facebook Page

For more information, contact Shawn Warner-Garcia, Graduate Division's professional development peer advisor.


Arts & Lectures Introduces the 2014-2015 Season 

Montecito Country ClubArts & Lectures reception. Credit: Kyle CroccoUCSB Arts & Lectures introduced their 2014-2015 season at the Montecito Country Club on Thursday, June 12. Attendees, which included the press (e.g., your funding peer) and supporters of Arts & Lectures were lavished with free wine, wine glasses, and hors d'oeuvres (the bacon-wrapped goodies were especially tasty).

The 2014-2015 season of BOLD MOVES and BIG IDEAS will feature 62 events, including 25 Santa Barbara debuts, three world premieres, and two co-commissions by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Highlights include The Joffrey Ballet, Matt Groening & Lynda Barry, Anne-Sophie Mutter with Yefim Bronfman & Lynn Harrell, Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Ina Garten, Audra McDonald, Hotel Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Kodo, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and Magic Johnson.


Kyle CroccoFunding Peer Kyle Crocco at the Arts & Lecture event. Credit: Kyle CroccoThe new season kicks off Oct. 2 with an opening night celebration featuring legendary singer Tony Bennett.
Series subscriptions are now on sale. Single tickets can be purchased starting Saturday, Aug. 9, at 10 a.m.

Series subscriptions, season brochures, and more information are available at Arts & Lectures’ Ticket Office, online at or by calling 805-893-3535.


SubscriptionsCredit: Arts & Lectures


Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Advice From a Graduating Ph.D. Student

In the following article, guest writer Ariel Schindewolf, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, shares what she wish she had known earlier in graduate school. Ariel also shared her advice in a previous GradPost article (Graduate School Tips for Success).  

As I get closer and closer to the finish line, I discover more and more things that make me think: "If only I had known sooner!" So, I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you the new tricks that I have recently learned that can hopefully benefit you throughout your graduate school experience. 

Credit: Microsoft Office1) Use technology to save you time (and frustration). If you have a lot of tables and figures in your paper, these can, and should, be auto-numbered and auto-updated. I never realized this existed. You can do this in OpenOffice and Microsoft Word (see Automatic Table of Contents and Lists in MS Word). 

You can also create an automated table of contents. I recently removed the first section of one of my chapters in my dissertation and then I had to update ALL of my headings and subheadings in the table of contents because it changed the page numbering. Fortunately, this no longer needs to be done by hand. The automated table of contents feature tracks your headings and sub-headings and can update them automatically for you.

2) Get to Know the Graduate Division Peers. There is a writing peer on campus (Ryan Dippre). He can help you with the above items. I met with him multiple times and can attest to the fact that he is great. He read an entire chapter for my dissertation and gave me some positive feedback, which was a pleasant surprise. He also gave me some useful tips to improve my writing. It's nice to be able to discuss your writing with a third party individual who is invested in what you are doing and who is someone neutral that is not evaluating you. You can contact the Writing Peer by emailing: Another idea is to have writing partners or groups. 

Ariel Schindewolf website screenshotThe Graduate Division also has an Academic Peer (Torrey Trust), who helped me revamp my professional website ( A professional website is an important part of the job search these days. It's also a way to share your work and unique perspective with the world. Torrey helped me set and adhere to deadlines, which made the website project manageable for me. She could do the same for you!

Note: Torrey is graduating soon, but don't despair, the Graduate Division will be hiring a new Professional Development Peer in her place. 

3) Enjoy the journey! Getting a Ph.D. is definitely about the journey and the destination. As I get closer to graduation, I look back at all those times that I felt SO lost and worried that I might never make it and I feel sorry for my past-self. If only I could have completely believed that, in fact, at some point, my journey would all become clear. For me, my dissertation came to fruition by continuing to put one foot in front of the other and doing the work day in and day out, whether I understood why or not. For me, this has been a painful process of facing many of my own weaknesses, but I realize more and more that it's really related to the learning process. Learning anything new can just be challenging, but this challenge is why I'm here.

So, my advice is to keep on plugging - you may be in a dark, mysterious tunnel right now, just know that where you are is a normal part of this mysterious process. Trust yourself and keep going. 

Anyway, these are the lessons that this old dog has been learning lately. Hopefully, you might find something useful for yourself in here. One of the most important things we can do for ourselves in graduate school is to get the help we need. Resources are available to you now that may not be in the future; don't just ignore them. 

Con mucho cariño,



GSA Recognizes Dixon-Levy Service and Excellence in Teaching Award Winners

Torrey Trust, Dixon-Levy Service Award winner, and Justine Meyr, Excellence in Teaching Award winner, strike a pose. Credit: Kyle Crocco

On Tuesday, June 3, the Graduate Students Association (GSA) recognized the winners of the Dixon-Levy Service Award and the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dixon-Levy Service Award winners

The Dixon-Levy Service Award is given to outstanding members of the university community who have unselfishly devoted themselves to the improvement of graduate student life. The winners are:

Dr. Jeanne Stanford, CAPS

Dr. Jeanne Stanford receives her Dixon-Levy Service award. Credit: Kyle CroccoDr. Jeanne Stanford is the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at UCSB. She has been involved in multiple projects that contribute to improving graduate student life, such as the SaySomething Campaign to prevent suicides on campus and the efforts to have physiological services available in student housing. She has also worked to improve the CAPS office to better serve diverse student populations, and as her nominator wrote, Dr. Stanford “has been vocal in addressing diversity issues at both the campus and UC levels in regards to psychological health, including those specifically related to experiences of oppression (e.g., racial/gender issues in predominantly white/male departments; issues of misused power in advisor relationships) as they operate within student lives.” Dr. Stanford has also been a strong advocate for the Mental Health Peers program on campus.

 Sharalyn Sanders, Comparative Literature

Sharilyn Sanders receives her Dixon-Levy Service award. Credit: Kyle CroccoSharalyn (or Shari) Sanders is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature. During her time at UCSB, she has been active within the graduate community, helping to organize many conferences and bring major speakers to our campus, co-founding the Humanimality Research Focus Group, and offering training on teaching sensitive issues as a co-lead TA in her department. Shari’s nominator commended her for her unselfish commitment to improving graduate student life, writing, “She doesn't do it for praise. She does it because she cares. It's for these reasons, and many more, that I believe Shari deserves to be recognized for the Dixon-Levy GSA Service Award.”


Torrey Trust, Graduate Division Academic Peer

Torrey Trust shows off her Dixon-Levy Service award. Credit: Kyle Crocco

Torrey Trust recently completed her Ph.D. in Education at UCSB. While at UCSB, Torrey served the graduate student community in many ways, such as being the Academic Peer Advisor in the Graduate Student Resource Center, regularly writing articles for the GradPost, serving on multiple committees within the Graduate Division and her academic department, creating GradSpace, and working to help expand the Graduate Student Showcase, just to name a few. Those who nominated Torrey for this award praised her work, with one of her nominators stating, “Torrey demonstrates a commitment to students, UC Santa Barbara, and the importance of higher education. She is highly dedicated to improving the life of graduate students.”


Excellence in Teaching Award winners

The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes the contributions of graduate students who have shown excellence in their role as a Teaching Assistant (or Teaching Associate) in the teaching mission of UC Santa Barbara. The winners are:

Humanities and Fine Arts

Brian Griffith (Winner)

Brian GriffithBrian Griffith (right). Credit: Gary Haddow

Silvia Ferreira (Honorable Mention)

Silvia FerreiraSilvia Ferreira (left). Credit: Gary Haddow

Social Sciences

Justine Meyr (Winner)

Justine MeyrJustine Meyr (right) receives the Excellence in Teaching award. Credit: Gary Haddow 

Summer Gray (Honorable Mention)

Summer GraySummer Gray (left). Credit: Gary Haddow 


Molly Metz (Winner)

Molly Metz (right). Credit: Gary Haddow 

Michael Nava (Honorable Mention; not pictured)

Teaching Associate

Angela Holtzmeister (Winner)

Angela Holtzmeister (right). Credit: Gary Haddow

Derek Smith (Honorable Mention)



Free Massages, Field Trips, Therapy Dogs, and More with UCSB Health & Wellness

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."  ~World Health Organization, 1948

UCSB Health & Wellness LogoDid you know that UCSB Health & Wellness provides a variety of FREE services to help all students (including you!) improve their physical, mental, and social well-being? Here is a list of resources, services, and events offered by Health & Wellness:

The Health & Wellness website also features on-campus resources, off-campus resources, and a library of information

Credit: UCSB Health & Wellness 


Tips for Self-Care


Dr. Trust's Tips: How to Do it All and Maintain Your Sanity: Part II

Phinally Done sticker at goleta beachCredit: Torrey Trust

In a previous GradPost article, I shared how learning to “do it all” in graduate school involves building relationships, asking questions, soliciting feedback, and reading extracurricular materials. In this article, I will focus on the “maintaining your sanity” part of graduate school.

These two actions (“doing it all” and “maintaining your sanity”) complement each other. It is important to find a way to balance how much you are doing in graduate school with how much you are doing for your well-being.

So, what can you do to maintain your sanity? Take care of your physical and emotional well-being!

Physical Well-Being

Torrey Trust golfBirdie putt at Twin Lakes Golf Course.Your physical well-being is directly connected to your scholarship. Studies have shown that you learn more, you are more productive, and you are more creative when you get more sleep, eat healthy food, and exercise daily (read Increase Your Brainpower With Exercise). If you feel like you are stuck in a rut or if you are struggling to understand a concept, go for a walk and you will be amazed and how much it improves your ability to think clearly.

It is essential to set aside time every day to do activities that improve your physical well-being. I recommend putting health reminders in your calendar. If you use a digital calendar, such as iCal or Google Calendars, setup alerts to eat healthy (e.g., eat 1 extra fruit/vegetable today), to sleep at a reasonable time (e.g., It’s midnight…time to go to bed!), and to be more active (e.g., take a walk!).

UCSB has a variety of events and activities to help you improve your physical well-being. Here are some GradPost articles to help you get started:

Emotional Well-Being

Torrey Trust yogaPracticing yoga on the campus lagoon pier.Being emotionally well is an ongoing process of practicing gratitude, maintaining a positive outlook, expressing your feelings, and dealing with stress (source).

Practicing gratitude and maintaining a positive outlook are two simple and very effective ways to help you get through challenging experiences. We all face what seem like insurmountable obstacles in graduate school. When I felt overwhelmed with stress or had a rough day, I would start listing all of the things that I felt grateful for and all of the positive things that happened that week. This simple process quickly changed my mindset and helped me relax.

I recommend keeping a gratitude journal or creating a list of the 3-5 things you are most grateful for every morning when you wake up (or right before you go to sleep). Another easy thing you can do is to smile or laugh when you are feeling down. The action of smiling decresses your stress levels (source).

I also recommend taking time to reflect, meditate, or do some deep breathing exercises. All of these activities have been shown to reduce stress. One of my favorite things to do during grad school was to lie down in a dark room with music on and to let my thoughts wander. This activity gave me time to explore ideas and examine my research without worrying about all of the stresses of grad school.

Here are some GradPost articles to help you improve your emotional well-being:

There is so much more to grad school than conducting research, teaching, and writing. Hopefully, my tips can help you find a way to do everything that you want to do while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


Ways to Take Charge of Your Ph.D.

Credit: GradHackerErin Bedford, a Ph.D. student in Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo and the Pierre and Marie Curie University, has published an article on GradHacker titledTaking Charge of your Ph.D.

In it, Bedford gives three steps toward making your Ph.D. entirely your own: identifying the kind of advisor you want to work with; embracing your responsibility; and learning to trust and forgive yourself.

Although geared largely toward incoming Ph.D. students, it’s still a valuable read for people at any stage of the Ph.D.  


5 Things You Should Know to Empathize with International Students 

UCSB international students and faculty who attended the 2014 International Lunch Discussion in January. Credit: George Yatchisin

Living in the U.S. as an international student can be tough. I know it’s tough, because I’ve been living as an international student in the U.S. for a little over a decade – one year of high school, four years of college, two years of graduate school (first master's degree), one year of work using OPT visa (student permit work visa), 1.5 years for another master's degree, and here I am now at UCSB, pursuing my doctoral studies in Education. Having gone through 10 years of life as an international student, I'd like to share some insights on what international students go through on a regular basis. These are reflections based on my story as well as stories of many other international students at UCSB.

1. International students sometimes struggle in establishing new friends and connections. Don’t get me wrong – it's not just the language barrier. Sometimes, they aren’t sure of the cultural discourse. They might wonder, “Is it appropriate to say it this way or that way?” And when people make sarcastic jokes, they might not understand it or not know how to respond to it (they’ll often just smile). Also, international students try to maintain their connections back home. To do so, they sometimes have to spend their weekends staying at home to chat with family and friends who are on the other side of the world. Weekday chatting can happen but they have to either stay up really late or get up really early due to time difference. Professors often wonder why international students are so tired all the time – well, this might be why.

2.  International students, almost all the time, experience homesickness and culture shock. When I first experienced culture shock, I didn’t realize I was experiencing it. My concept of “culture shock” was something more extreme, like a physical “shock.” However, I later realized that the beginning of my culture shock was when I constantly questioned and judged the ways people in America act, think, speak, and eat. I still remember how surprised I was when I saw my American friends eating the entire footlong Subway sandwich, and still had room for dessert. It took time for me to adjust and embrace everything in America. In addition, international students feel homesick – not all the time – but especially during holidays and vacations. What makes the homesickness worse is when they find out it costs more than $1,000 to fly back home.

3. International students have to deal with a lot of paperwork, jargon, and all kinds of legal “stuff.” International students always have to be mindful of dates. Students need to get their I-20 document (a two-page paper showing, “I go to this school. I’m legal.”) signed on time, before and after travel. Students need to make sure that their passport and visa are not expired. If the passport is expiring, they have to go to the nearest embassy of their country of origin to get it renewed (“nearest” is a two-hour drive to Los Angeles for UCSB students). If the visa is expiring, they have to leave the U.S. and get a new one from a U.S. embassy at any foreign country. Yes, it’s expensive to be an international student. In addition, students have to keep up with new immigration policies, make copies of all immigration documents, and be knowledgeable of immigration jargon words, such as OPT or CPT. OPT (Optional Practical Training) is a permit that allows students to work off-campus for a year after they graduate from college or graduate school. CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a permit that allows students to work off-campus during the school year, as long as it is related to what they are studying. To apply for both of these permits, students have to have money, time (preparing all the paperwork), and patience (waiting for the permit to come in the mail for OPT).

4. International students have to be “extraordinary” or are of “national interest” to impress the government and potential employers especially those who are allergic to the words “visa” and “sponsorship.” No matter how awesome international students are, and no matter how much the employer wants to hire them, they (students and employers) have to go through the immigration process. This means more paperwork, more money (from the student and the employer), and more patience. So, when international students hear about college career fairs, sometimes they will not go. They might consider going if they know that there is a company present that has had a history of sponsoring visas. Even so, it is still not easy for international students to ask their potential employers, “Can you sponsor me for a visa?”

The W curve. Credit: Berkeley International Office

5. International students sometimes have a fear of going back to their “home” country, especially when they have lived in the U.S. for a long time. When international students apply for a visa to come to the U.S., they have to show evidence that they have an intent to go back to their home country after their education. However, after spending several years living in the U.S., it might not be easy to go back to their home country. Not because they don’t miss their family and friends back home, but probably because they have now been acclimated in the U.S. culture and lifestyle. Sometimes, they realize that they might want to live in the U.S. after visiting their home country over the break. All the changes that have gone through in their home country while they were gone might appear foreign to them. Often, these students experience a second wave of culture shock, comparing the ways of their home country to the U.S. Thus, they end up feeling more “at home” in this foreign country than their home country, because they know how to pay their bills, how to get around, and where to find the best wi-fi Internet connection.


Life as an international student is not easy, with all the culture shock and homesickness they have to go through, all the relationships they have to build and maintain, all the paperwork and deadlines they need to keep up to stay legal, and all the studying and professional development to be a star job candidate. So the next time you meet an international student, give them an empathy hug. But make sure it’s culturally appropriate.


Tips for Working Less and Doing More

Be ProductiveCredit: Funding PeerAccording to Time's article by Eric Barker, "Slacker's Guide to Productivity," there are six ways for you to goof off and get work done.

1) Work fewer hours

While you can pull the occasional all-nighter, working long hours all the time will eventually exhaust you and make you less productive.

Manage your time better this way.

2) Go home

You can be more creative working at home than at the office.

3) Take a nap (my favorite)

Some of the most successful people have been fans of the afternoon siesta. Naps also rejuvenate you and increase learning. However, side effects can include mussed hair and pillow face. Check out the GradPost article, "If You Snooze, You Don't Lose: The Art of Napping."

4) Procrastinate (efficiently)

If you procrastinate efficiently, you can complete other tasks while avoiding a particular one. For more advice how to procrastinate positively, check this article.

Personally, procrastination allows me time to think about a project before starting it.

5) Go on holiday

Studies have shown that you are more productive for a month after going on a holiday. Think about that the next time you have a paper or dissertation chapter due.

6) Hang out with friends

Apparently, having friends nearby can push you toward productivity. Who knew? They always push me toward eating out.

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