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Graduate students try to immerse in 'Cuse culture on a time crunch

Syracuse University offers a number of one-year Master's degree programs. Undergrad and graduate students alike share their thoughts on how to best experience Syracuse University in that short amount of time.

Syracuse University is known for having a number of Master’s degree programs that can be completed in one year or less. This appeals to many applicants who desire an advanced degree, but who are eager to join the work force, and don’t want to spend years toiling away in a classroom. But for some, there is a downside to these short programs of study. Some graduate students feel that while they are getting an invaluable education, they are missing out on the SU experience.

Grace Pierce is a graduate student majoring in Accounting at the Whitman School of Management. She transferred to Syracuse her junior year, and decided to stay on to complete her Master's degree. She considers herself lucky to have had two extra years at Syracuse, as she got to experience things she may not have had time for as a graduate student.

Between an internship, classes, homework, serving as secretary of the Real Estate Club, working, being a member of Students In Free Enterprise and balancing a social life, Pierce has a packed schedule.

"I don't sleep a lot," she said very matter-of-factly.

Pierce has not attended any Graduate Student Organization, or GSO events, but encourages others to do so. The GSO is a campus organization that serves as a resource specifically for graduate students.

Just last Wednesday, the GSO held a happy hour event at the Sheraton Sitrus Lounge with free pizza and wings.

Melissa Kizina Motsch is President of the GSO, and is a PhD candidate studying Composition and Cultural Rhetoric. She has been at SU for five years, and uses her expertise in graduate student life to help other students.

"This happy hour is actually brand new. Traditionally, we have students go to the Inn Complete, which is the graduate student bar. There we offer a 20% discount for all grad students for drink and food.  We've had beer tastings, wine tastings and we have our annual picnic there."

"That really helps grad students kind of get to know each other. It brings them together and kind of gets them out of their department bubble."

Kizina Motsch offers advice to graduate students that she admits is a little unorthodox.

"I think that one of the most important thing that grad students can do is to exercise. That sounds kind of crazy and weird. But doing some kind of physical activity to relieve stress and refocus your mind is one thing that really adds to the richness of the graduate student experiences. If you're stuck sitting and reading for 12 hours a day and you never get out to do anything... then you're not at full capacity."

Kristen Masi, who is working towards a dual-degree in Master's of Public Administration and Master's of International Relations, attended the happy hour event in attempt to gain a sense of community.

"I definitely feel disconnected from the sports culture and the university culture as a whole... I was worried at first about being at such a big school with a big undergrad frat scene, but so far it's been positive and I've really enjoyed it."

Her friend Kate McNeely is earning a Master's of Public Administration from the Maxwell School. For her, graduate student life is about being social, rather than about practicing SU norms.

"It's more having an experience with other students outside of the Maxwell School. We're very insular... a lot of us have been working for a while so we had the school experience a while back."

But not all graduate students feel isolated.

Prajwal Mamledsai is in a two-year computer engineering Master’s program at the iSchool.

“We never feel left out… we do have parties every weekend. Recently we went to a duality celebration at Hendricks’s Chapel.”

Though they haven’t yet finished their first semester, some freshmen have already experienced enough that they have recommendations.

Patricia Osborne is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, who highly recommends Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

“I went there my first day here actually,“ she said.

Krishna Daniels is a senior and English major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She recommends that before their time is up, graduate students go to a show at the Westcott Theatre.

“I remember sophomore year I went to see OK GO," Daniels said, "and that was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time."

In fact, she suggests that students experience Westcott Street in general, for its unique shops and restaurants like Boom Babies and Alto Cinco. Daniels says the burritos there are top-notch.

Daniels had one final piece of advice for graduate students completing short courses of study.

“Take the opportunity to explore. Don’t just stay in your room. Syracuse is really fun once you have the chance to get out.” 

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