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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

Mon: noon-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

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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Optimizing Motivation and Well Being Workshop Recap

Motivation word chart

"Why am I in grad school!?"

If you have ever asked yourself that question, you are not alone. Dr. Jennifer LaGuardia from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has some helpful information about how we can find ways to "reboot our motivation" and optimize our well being. 

Here are some things to consider

  • What got you interested in graduate school? and What keeps you going? Reflecting on these questions will help you identify what is driving your motivation. 
  • According to Self-Determination Therapy (SDI), motivation is a psychological energy that is directed towards a goal. It is not the quantity, but the quality of motivation that is important because it influences persistance and well-being. Quality of motivation is determined by one's experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. 

What can you do?

Begin by reflecting on the ways your own psychological needs are being met or not, make an action plan, and enlist social support. "CARES" Self-Assessment is one way of doing this:

  • Competence: What are the areas you feel most confident about in your work? 
  • Autonomy: Are you able to pursue your interests and valued goals?  
  • Relatedness: How connected do you feel with others in your department? 
  • Extrinsic Compensation & Equity: Are you given enough resources and training to do your work? Are they enough to support your work? 
  • Structure: Are you given clear expectations and details about how to achieve your goals (graduate degree, research, etc.)? 

Free Tax Assistance with VITA

UCSB VITAUCSB'S Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is again offering free tax services to individuals and families earning less than $62,000. VITA is currently accepting appointments for this tax season. Appointments will begin on Feb. 5 and continue through Apr. 10.

To book an appointment, email Be sure to check out the "What to Bring" page on their website prior to your appointment. 


Getting Your Research Beyond the Ivory Tower

Credit: Naturejobs.comSo you've written your academic article (yay!), you've gone through the sometimes-grueling peer review process (thank God it's over!), and now your journal of choice is ready to publish your brilliant research (finally!). Now what?

The process of getting your research out and increasing its impact is not yet over, but the next part of the process is a lot more fun than copy-editing and reading Reviewer #2's comments. In a recent article on Naturejobs, Jack Leeming shares his tips on how to get your paper noticed.

  1. Write a clear paper. Keep your prose as light and jargon free as possible, whilst still maintaining the level of accuracy you need for a research paper.
  2. Write a lay summary and post it somewhere. Write a short summary (400-600 words), have a non-specialist read it for clarity, and then post it online in the appropriate venues (such as your department website/blog or your professional portfolio).
  3. Tell your press office about it. They can help prepare a press release based on your (hopefully) clearly written paper and your accessible lay summary close to your publication date.
  4. Prepare your social media circle. Before your paper comes out, engage with journalists, editors, and scholars via social media to help establish yourself as a contributor to conversations.
  5. Use The Conversation and sidestep all of the above. The Conversation is a news site with content coming entirely from academic researchers. An editor will help you craft a piece into something suitable for mainstream media, and then your article will be freely available for any other organization to publish.

To read Leeming's full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.


Webinar on Dealing with Holiday Family Drama

Credit: @AcademicsSay

Does the phrase “home for the holidays” fill you with feelings of anticipation and excitement, or dread for inevitable family drama? The holidays can be a time of joy, but also a time of stress, especially if you are a first-generation graduate student of color whose family culture might not be comfortable with your ambitions and intellectual pursuits. Before you leave for the holidays, be sure to check out this webinar by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD):

Smarty Pants Comes Home for the Holidays
Monday, December 14, 2-3:30 p.m.
NCFDD Virtual Classroom
To register, click here

Many graduate students coping with difficult family dynamics find themselves frustrated because they feel devalued and disrespected. In this webinar, journalist and historian Dr. Stacey Patton uses her unique brand of candor and humor to share some lessons she has learned about being a first-generation graduate student, and she offers a practical guide that students can use to manage their feelings and expectations to achieve successful family togetherness with minimal stress.

To sign up for your free membership on NCFDD and start accessing all of the resources it has to offer, click here for more instructions.


What's Keeping You from Finishing Your Dissertation?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are dissertation writers. But no matter the reason, one thing is likely true: there’s often a large, unspoken disconnect between faculty advisers and graduate students when it comes to writing a dissertation.

In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Kerry Ann Rockquemore writes, "Advisers imagine that delays are due to the content of the project, while graduate students are most often struggling with writing and resistance. Because of that disconnect, advisers’ efforts don’t meet students where they are stuck, and the students’ impostor syndrome can be so intense (and the power differential so great) that it keeps them from asking for the type of help they need."

While Rockquemore's article is targeted at faculty advisers, graduate students can glean some good advice that they can start using right away:

  1. Ask yourself, "What is a dissertation?" Let's face it, most graduate students have never written a dissertation before, and the genre is wildly different from the types of papers they've been writing (e.g. binge-and-bust seminar papers) and reading (e.g. closely critiqued seminal works in their field) thus far in grad school. Have a detailed discussion with your advisor about the scope and quality requirements of a dissertation, and ask for a rubric, guidebook, or successful sample.
  2. Get into a daily writing habit. As Rockquemore writes, "It’s well documented that the most productive academics write every day - Monday through Friday - in short periods of time. (And by “writing” I mean anything that moves a manuscript out the door.) However, that’s the opposite of how most graduate students write, or imagine they should write, their dissertations. This emerges from a combination of past binge-and-bust writing habits, the flawed assumption that nothing can get done in 30 minutes a day, and the idea that they must have everything figured out before they start writing." So, if your current strategy isn't working for you, try out a new one!
  3. Figure out what type of support you need and where you can get it. Dissertation writers thrive in a supportive community of active daily writers. This might look like an in-person writing space like the Graduate Writers' Room or an online community of peers that can provide built-in and regular accountability.

To read Rockquemore's full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


Grade Appeals, Faculty Misconduct, and Sexual Harassment

Student raising handCredit: openclipart.comOn the path to receiving a degree, graduate students may occasionally have an issue with a professor, or receive a grade that they don’t feel accurately reflects their course performance. UCSB's Graduate Division offers a variety of processes to help graduate students address such concerns.

Grade Appeal Process

The Graduate Division offers grade appeal options for students who feel there may have been administrative errors at work, issues with the professor, or other contributing factors.

Here are the required steps to contest a grade:

  • Try to discuss the grade with the professor. See if there might be an option to rewrite any papers to improve your grade. 
  • If this is unsuccessful, you should then speak to the Department Chair.
  • If both efforts fail, graduate students may file for a grade appeal. Details are listed on the Graduate Division website here.

Grade appeal requirements: 

  • Must be submitted before the end of the term following the quarter in which the grade was assigned. So, if you received the grade in winter quarter, you must turn in your grade appeal by the last day of spring quarter. This gives you a full quarter to first work with the professor and department chair to remedy the situation.
  • If the Graduate Division Dean denies the grade appeal, you can request that it be sent to the Graduate Council. You have 15 days to request the Graduate Council to review your complaint after receiving the Dean's decision.

At this stage, the Graduate Council can act to approve a retroactive withdrawal from the course (so that it won’t remain on your transcript), or a change of the contested grade. This process could result in your grade being raised, removed, or remaining the same. If the grade remains the same, the grad student has the option of retaking the course. The previous grade will then be replaced on your transcript if you improve on your second round.

For more information, peruse the Graduate Division information sites on the process. You can find a wealth of other helpful information on the Graduate Division Academic Services pages.

Faculty Code of Conduct and Complaints

Beyond grades, some faculty may occasionally violate the Faculty Code of Conduct as outlined by the UC Office of the President. To deal with these types of issues, graduate students may consider filing a complaint. Information regarding the Faculty Code of Conduct and the complaint process can be found on the relevant UCSB website here.

Office of Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment

Graduate students also have the Office of Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment as a resource. More information can be found on their website.


Webinar on Dealing with Stress and Rejection

Did you know that you have access to a ton of great resources on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) website as part of UCSB's institutional membership? When you sign up for free, you can access both archived and upcoming webinars, such as:

Credit: Bernard GoldbachStrategies for Dealing with Stress, Rejection, and Haters in Your Midst
Thursday, November 19
, 2-3 p.m.
NCFDD Virtual Classroom
To register, click here

The webinar will cover topics like:

  • The impact that stress and negativity can have if they are not managed
  • Identify the most common areas of stress in academic life
  • Concrete strategies for managing the physical, emotional, and attitudinal effects of stress

To sign up for your free membership on NCFDD and start accessing all of the resources it has to offer, click here for more instructions.


Easy and Free Tools to Help Students Budget

In addition to the pressures of academic requirements, job searches, and personal relationships, many students also feel financial stress; we have more money leaving our bank accounts than going into them.


Tracking expenses is the first step toward budgeting and financial planning. It’s important to know exactly where you’re spending your elusive money, and the results may surprise you. Getting an occasional coffee at Courtyard Café or a late-night pizza can certainly add up. Luckily, there are several easy and free ways to help monitor expenses:

  • Keeping a spending journal. Write down everything you spend for a month (or longer), and you’ll have a good idea of where your money is going. After that, you’ll be able to identify easy areas to save money (e.g., making coffee at home and bringing it to school, rather than a handful of visits to the coffee shop).
  • Sign up for a free account, and not only can you track your spending, but Mint will also suggest personalized savings tips. Other fun features include bill pay and free credit score checks.
  • LevelMoney. This app connects to your bank accounts and allows you more input into your saving and spending goals. After entering these goals, the app will track your purchases and tell you how much you have left to spend for a given period to stay on course.
  • PearBudget. Based off a simple Excel sheet, this website allows you to register for free with customized spending categories. You can export the Excel sheet for free, but after the first month trial period, an account with PearBudget costs $5 a month.
  • Free monthly spending trackers and credit reports from your credit card company. More credit card companies are helping their customers track their spending with spending analyzers in their monthly statements (e.g., Discover Card).

Library Update: Limited Access to Special Research Collections

UCSB Library LogoThe following is an update from the UCSB Library:

From now until the end of fall quarter 2015, library users will have limited access to all materials in Special Research Collections as the department moves to its state-of-the-art new facilities in the expanded Library.

Some materials might be accessible via special request, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. There will also be limits on the number of items we can retrieve and the time we may be able to keep them on hold.

We apologize for any inconvenience the move will cause, and are eager to welcome you into our new facilities on Jan. 4, 2016.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Public Service staff at 805-893-3062 or


Resources and Upcoming Events for LGBTQ Students and Allies

As the school year kicks off, there are many upcoming events and opportunities for LGBTQ, similarly identified, and supportive graduate students. The Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) works with students, staff, and faculty to ensure that LGBTQ identities, experiences, and concerns are represented and addressed at UCSB.

The center aims to create a vibrant and engaging environment through:

  • Social and educational programming,
  • Volunteer and leadership opportunities,
  • A comfortable and welcoming social and study space, and
  • Professional and student staff members for support and advocacy.

Additionally, the RCSGD hosts regular events specifically for graduate students. Upcoming events:

LGBTQ Graduate Student Mixer
Thursday, Oct. 15, 6 p.m.
The Imperial

Meet other LGBTQ, similarly identified, and supportive graduate students. Build community, and celebrate fall! RSVP on this Facebook page.

Queer Grad Chatz: Queering Mentorship in the Academy
Thursday, Nov. 12, 12 p.m.

RCSGD Lounge (3rd floor of the Student Resource Building)
Queer Grad Chatz is an opportunity for grads to come together to discuss how queer identities impact experiences of graduate training, professionalization, and research. The installment will focus on mentorship, including strategies for working with faculty as well as how to more effectively serve as mentors to others.

Get Involved

Do you have ideas about how to increase opportunities and support for queer, transgender, and similarly identified graduate students? Are you interested in working with other graduate students to make these ideas a reality? Email Alex Kulick or stop by the RCSGD.

Stay in Touch

If you want to stay up to date on events, programs, and happenings around campus relevant to queer and transgender graduate students as well as other events by the RCSGD, join the Google Group and/or Facebook Group. You can also follow the RCSGD on Facebook and on Instagram for a full listing of all events and services.

Students in front of the RCSGD in the Student Resource Building. Photo courtesy of the RCSGD.