With so many celebrations centered around community and gratitude this time of year, you may be thinking more about ways you can give back to others. Adding a volunteer commitment or a student leadership position to an already busy schedule can seem like a formula for burnout. But research shows that service is not only valuable for our community, it’s also good for us.

According to the sociologist and psychologist Jeanne Segal, PhD, and Lawrence Robinson, senior editor of helpguide.org, volunteering connects us to others by helping us make new friends, decreasing isolation, and increasing our social skills. It’s also good for our minds and bodies, counteracting the effects of anger, sadness, depression, and anxiety, increasing self-confidence, and providing a sense of purpose. Volunteering can even help advance our careers, enabling us to gain valuable “on-the-job” experience and acquire new skills. And it’s often fun too. (Remember fun?)

Here at GSAS, volunteering and student leadership have been cited as a wonderful personal and professional experience by graduate students who say it’s re-energized them, taught them new things about themselves, and given them a fresh perspective on their graduate experiences.

Mina Mitreva, a current GSAS Student Center wellness fellow and former resident advisor, puts it this way: “I have enjoyed all of my student leadership roles at GSAS because they enabled me to foster a sense of community among my peers, and to draw more people into appreciating the social aspect of graduate school and to cultivate deeper, hopefully lifelong, friendships and relationships.” 

If you find Mina’s experience as inspiring as I do, get involved! Here are some ways to volunteer or serve in a paid leadership position at GSAS:

  • GSAS Student Center Fellows are GSAS students who create programs and events including film series, wine tastings, meditation sessions, short story clubs, days of service, family music-making classes, ski trips, dance lessons, bike trips, and more. Apply to be a GSAS Student Fellow by January 29, 2021! If you are interested in learning specifically about volunteer opportunities, you can contact the Public Service Fellows.
  • The Diversity and Inclusion Fellows of the GSAS Office of Diversity and Minority Affairs​ help GSAS to identify needed areas of support and work with student groups across the School. They also participate in recruitment and outreach for prospective students. Learn more on Engage.
  • There are more than 50 GSAS Student Groups (GSG) that provide opportunities to connect students who share common interests and goals. GSGs gather around topics that include culture, sports, and hobbies, community service, and advocacy. The groups create spaces where students can engage in activities that promote personal growth, develop leadership skills, and build community. Interested in starting a new group? Contact the GSAS Student Center team.
  • The GSAS Student Council (GSC) advocates for, supports, and recognizes GSAS students in academic, administrative, and residential matters. GSC elections take place in April. Reach out to the leadership to learn more about available positions! 
  • Resident advisors (RAs) help to create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging among the more than 400 graduate students who, in a non-COVID year, live in four GSAS residence halls. They serve as facility liaisons, advisors, mediators, and event planners, organizing social events throughout the year, including welcoming events. The application and hiring process for 2021-2022 RAs will be posted later this spring.

Need more? Become a freshman proctor, resident or non-resident tutor for the College, serve as a graduate programs community advisor, join the Bok Center as a teaching and learning pedagogy fellow, or volunteer as a peer mentor in your department’s program. And don’t forget to showcase your student leadership and volunteer experiences on your CV or resume! (Make an appointment with the Office of Career Services to learn how.) 

Remember to be kind and to take good care of yourself and others. Remember to virtually visit B-2. And B-Well! 

B-2 B-Well: Get Involved