The goal of the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) is to foster a sense of community and collaboration, encourage socialization between students, promote networking, provide academic support, and create service opportunities.
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During the 2019-2020 school year, as the graduate student population at Rutgers-Camden continued to grow, a group of students started a project. Their aim was to create a platform that could facilitate connections among their growing number of peers. Under the guidance of Amy Liberi, who had long served as the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) came into existence.
Early planning was characterized by a sense of enthusiasm and anticipation, with the first official meeting scheduled for around March 2020. Unfortunately, this timing coincided with the onset of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of planning activities aimed at building a stronger graduate school community, Assistant Dean Liberi and the students, like people all over the world were forced to adapt to a world that required them to be apart.
For two years, the organization laid dormant until 2022 when pandemic restrictions began to ease and a larger cohort of graduate students joined the school. There was a strong desire to foster connections and revive the Graduate Student Organization (GSO). This renewed effort injected new life into the GSO, largely thanks to the unwavering commitment and tireless leadership of Christeen Perera, a Mathematics M.S. student from Staten Island, NY, and Anitha Varghese, an M.A. student in Psychological Sciences from West Acres, South Africa.
The goal of the GSO is to provide graduate students with an invaluable sense of belonging. It’s not just about studying; through the GSO, we engage in activities that help us truly get to know one another.Christeen Perera, M.S. Mathematics
Anitha and Christeen’s dedication and hard work were instrumental in shaping the GSO’s revival. They drew inspiration from the diverse student body within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to build the organization’s leadership and membership. This commitment to diversity was evident in the composition of the first executive board, which included members from various academic departments, such as mathematics, forensic science, biology, psychology, computer science, and criminal justice. However, the GSO’s inclusivity extended beyond academic boundaries. It welcomed commuter students, non-traditional scholars offering unique perspectives, and international students who added a global dimension to the thriving GSO community. This rich diversity in leadership naturally translated into a wide range of events, spanning from informal gatherings that seamlessly combined camaraderie with intellectually stimulating discussions to networking sessions with accomplished alumni and joyous celebrations marking significant milestones in the graduate journey.
As the narrative of the GSO continues to unfold, its steadfast commitment remains centered on shaping the graduate student experience. It aspires to provide a dedicated space where a multitude of voices converge, where ideas are nurtured to fruition, and where the bonds of friendship transcend the confines of academic disciplines. The GSO serves as a testament to the resilience of a community that has navigated challenges, emerging not only stronger but also more united, resolute in its shared mission. Looking forward, the GSO’s vision remains unwavering: to create an environment where every graduate student discovers a profound sense of belonging, becomes an integral part of a vibrant community, and finds a platform for personal and professional growth. In this endeavor, the GSO transcends being a mere organization; it stands as a shining beacon of unity, a living embodiment of the potential unlocked through collaboration, and an inspiring testament to the exceptional spirit of the Rutgers-Camden graduate community.