Graduate students are at the core of MSU. As our partners in research, as ambassadors of MSU in the scholarly community, as teachers, and often as friends, graduate students are a critical part of the foundation of our community. Their contributions help shape MSU as a premier land grant AAU institution: Their collaboration in inquiry and research with others on campus is perhaps our greatest asset when it comes to generating new ideas and pushing out the frontiers of knowledge and understanding. Their outreach and engagement efforts across the community, state, country, and world are crucial to MSU’s land grant mission. And the impact they have on the lives of the thousands of undergraduate students while dedicating themselves to their educational goals and pursuits is immeasurable.
This is true now more so than ever. Graduate student TAs proved critical in supporting faculty to make the transition to online and remote instruction; facilitating course discussions, preparing class materials, and troubleshooting in all sorts of ways. While supporting faculty in making this transition successfully, they also provided tremendous support to our undergraduate students enrolled in these courses. Many undergraduate students find success because a graduate teaching assistant provided the boost they needed to cross the finish line. In this semester the importance of graduate student support for undergraduates was heightened even more: Our graduate students were often faced with similar circumstances as the undergraduate students they were supporting. In many instances graduate students were making the transition to take their own classes remotely even as they, too, were facing added educational and personal stressors; while at the same time assisting undergraduate students in navigating these challenges as well.
When graduate students are instructors on campus, they are often the most innovative; their fresh, bold approaches ensure we remain at the vanguard of teaching and learning. In shifting to online and remote instruction this nimbleness and creativity proved critical for many students to succeed. And throughout all this, because our graduate student population is so diverse, they frequently become key mentors who connect with undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds. This mentorship is essential to the functioning of our university, especially in such unusual and stressful times. The collaborative environment they foster at MSU deepens our disciplinary understanding and broadens the appreciation of knowledge among the many members of our community.
To our graduate students pursuing the limits of possibility in their fields, while also continuing to support our students even during this time of crisis: you deserve the gratitude and the admiration of all of us in the Spartan community.