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Stanford embraces new graduate students for their talent and promise

Whether graduate students are here for three quarters or for five years, Stanford is committed to providing them with the "best possible educational experience," Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education, told newcomers at last week's New Graduate Student Orientation.

L.A. Cicero / Stanford News Service Graduate student orientation 2013

New graduate students pick up free "Red Zone" T-shirts and other materials at last week's Graduate Orientation Activities Lunch Information Event in Canfield Court.

At a reception for new graduate students held last week at Hoover House, Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education, told the new students they had arrived at a great time in Stanford's history.

"We have been making unprecedented investment of resources within and beyond departments," Gumport said, speaking at the President's Reception, a Thursday afternoon event hosted by John and Andrea Hennessy in the gardens of their residence.

"There is an abundance of dedicated faculty and staff, there are new programs and workshops to enhance what you learn in your degree programs, new fellowship opportunities, new academic facilities and graduate residences – all so you can have the best possible educational experience, whether you are here for three quarters or five years," she said.

Gumport said Stanford, which is known for its entrepreneurial spirit, promotes a spirit of exploration and experimentation. She encouraged the new graduate students to seek out resources available at Stanford, including the many innovative professional development and interdisciplinary programs offered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE). She said those opportunities will lead them to new ideas as well as to new relationships.

"It is through deep conversations with your peers, faculty and staff that you will determine your purpose, who you are and what you want to accomplish," said Gumport, who also is a professor of education.

Gumport also encouraged the new graduate students to ask for help, reminding them that Stanford is committed to their success.

"We admitted you because of your tremendous talent, your accomplishments thus far and your promise," she said. "We believe you will thrive here. Think back to the statement of purpose or research you wrote on your application, the passion and curiosity you expressed. Let that sense of wonder and ambition fuel you."

Activities fair

At the Graduate Orientation Activities Lunch Information Event, or GOALIE, last Friday, new graduate students filled the winding walkways of Canfield Court – located between the Law School and Meyer Library – wandering from one table to another to chat with Stanford staff members about activities, programs and groups on campus and to pick up some lunch and swag.

Melissa Chen, a master's student in management science and engineering from China, scored two free red T-shirts: a "Red Zone" shirt from Stanford Athletics and one from Stanford Engineering.

Chen is one of 2,651 new graduate students, including 971 international graduate students, who are beginning their studies this week at Stanford.

At the activities fair, Counseling and Psychological Services, Stanford's center for student mental health and well-being, handed out squeeze toys – black and white cows wearing shades and red swim trunks. The Hume Center for Writing and Speaking handed out pens. Stanford Ceili performed an Irish dance on the sidewalk.

GOALIE was the second-to-the-last event of a weeklong program. The New Graduate Student Orientation program began Sept. 15 with "Grad 101," a Q&A with current graduate students about life at Stanford. It ended with a tailgate party and football game on Saturday, Sept. 21. (Stanford beat Arizona State 42-28).

In between, there were library tours, open houses, "speed friending" and an information session for couples and families. Presentations included "Making the Most of Stanford's Academic Opportunities," sponsored by VPGE.

Getting oriented

Timothy Frank, a U.S. Air Force officer who was most recently stationed in Colorado Springs, Colo., has settled into Escondido Village with his wife and two children. Frank, a new doctoral candidate in civil engineering, praised "Grad 101."

"It was very well organized," Frank said. "It wasn't a free-for-all of questions. They had organized the questions beforehand, so they were prepared with very helpful answers. It's funny, but the most useful information I got was how to get good produce and find some good restaurants. They also talked about how to create a good balance between life and work."

Ali Hemmatifar, a master's student in mechanical engineering from Iran who earned his undergraduate degree at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, attended the president's reception.

"The president and his wife were very cool and very fun – and so hospitable," said Hemmatifar, who was wearing a Stanford T-shirt. "I got my picture taken with them and I plan to post it on my Facebook."

Jessie Bullock, a master's student in international policy studies, was relaxing at the activities fair after a weeklong math and economics boot camp.

"I attended the evening social events and also the open house at the Career Development Center," she said.

Graduate students and their schools

By the numbers, the School of Engineering wins hands down as the Stanford school with the highest number of new graduate students with the arrival of 886 people.

The Graduate School of Business welcomed 520 new students, including 408 people seeking MBAs, and the School of Humanities and Sciences admitted 517 new master's and PhD candidates.

The Stanford Law School  has begun training 249 future attorneys and legal scholars.

The School of Medicine, which accepted 102 aspiring doctors, also opened its doors to 28 master's students and 86 doctoral candidates.

The Graduate School of Education rolled out the welcome mat to 189 new graduate students who are seeking master's degrees and doctorates.

The School of Earth Sciences greeted 58 new graduate students who are seeking master's or doctoral degrees in one of its four departments, or a joint degree or PhD in its Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources.

In addition, 16 new students have enrolled in Stanford's Master of Liberal Arts Program, a part-time degree program for adults that holds classes in the evenings and functions under the auspices of the Stanford Continuing Studies program.