Sierra Nichols (BIO '24) was faced with a dilemma as the Life Sciences’ representative to BYU’s Graduate Student Society: how was she supposed to be the voice of 300 graduate students scattered across seven departments and an academic center? She started by doing what any Life Sciences student does—research. With the help of associate dean Ben Crookston, what started as simply trying to gather information about the students snowballed into a mission to build a better, more connected graduate community through a student council.
The new Life Sciences Graduate Student Council blends 14 students from various countries, backgrounds, and PhD and master’s programs. They will work together with the faculty and staff running the graduate programs to create a forum to discuss what challenges students face and how to improve the graduate experience. The council will also focus on improving personal and professional connections for students.
“We’ll work hand-in-hand . . . to build a better graduate community where [graduates] feel an identity here [with the college], where they feel valued, and where they have a group they can connect with,” says Crookston. “[We can] create a graduate community that we’ve never had before.”
This ambitious advance for the Life Sciences graduate programs is intended to create a high-quality experience in every way, including mentoring, academia, experiential learning, and cultivating a community of faith, which will help students stand out when they continue with their careers. The first step? Just bringing people into the same space. We can look forward to upcoming activities like graduate-specific formal and casual social events, a Life Sciences graduate research conference, and more initiatives still in development.
The students on the council are Kenneth Carroll, Kai-li Sam Fong, Kate Jaggi, PrithiviRaj Jegannathan, Aubrey Johansen, Sterling Kerr, Brandon Lopez, Camille Nguyen, Sierra Nichols, Brian Petersen, Michael Von Gunten, Isaac Stirland, Jared Steele, and Sidney Sithole.
Get to know your new Life Sciences Graduate Student Council (LSGSC):
bios submitted by the students, edited for length and clarity