Last week, the Hub was energized for its much-anticipated annual Grad School Fair, connecting our University of Michigan College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts students with graduate and professional school representatives from schools across the country. As part of the week’s activities, four LSA alums were gracious enough to share their graduate and professional school experiences with current LSA students in our BIPOC Post-Grad student panel. On managing imposter syndrome at predominantly white institutions, each of our panelists added something that truly resonated with our students. 

Sommer Albert (Psychology and Gender & Health ‘20) spoke of keeping her ‘why’ close to her center:

“Why am I doing this? What communities am I here to serve? What have I learned to get here? That really helps me to get through the hard times.”

Oluwatosin Olojo (Microbiology ‘18) highlighted the importance of reaching out for support from among those of shared identity. Tosin recalled that: 
“Whether it’s people that look like you, people who have a similar experience to yours, or people who come from a similar background, just knowing that within our field of public health there are people trying to improve health and equity working with me that look like me is a really helpful thing.”

Andre Ray (Screen Arts and Cultures ‘17) takes a direct approach to confronting professional doubt, noting:

“I’m going to get my money’s worth. I’m sacrificing a lot financially, and I have questions, so I need the answers. You can’t win a fight if you’re afraid to take a punch. Finally asking the questions I needed answered when everyone else was silent, I found the space began to fill with conversation. When that first happened, I realized I may not know where other people are, but I know where I am, and I know getting these answers is going to help me and often someone else.”

Lastly, John Petoskey (Spanish and Social Theory & Practice ’16; Law ’20; Environment and Sustainability ’20) zeroed in on belonging in academic and professional spaces: 

“There is a lot of pressure that comes from your peers and professors in college and graduate school, especially if you come from an underrepresented community. In my own experience, I have often taken proactive steps to ensure that implicit bias does not affect how I am perceived academically or professionally. In classes, I would sometimes ask the professor how they are accounting for implicit bias in grading and that was a very concrete way for me to then feel comfortable in many of my classes. Look for programs and spaces that encourage this.” 

Our panelists brought some powerful personal insights Wednesday afternoon, and we’re so thankful these LSA alums joined us to share their hard-earned experiences!