April 4, 2018 | Each year, the Graduate School offers a challenge to graduate students: Create and implement a project that connects your research with a community.
Students who accept the challenge and develop such projects are recognized as Citizen Scholars. The Graduate School offers a Citizen Scholar course each year to help students fulfill this goal, but students can be nominated for recognition by their programs.
“I consider the Citizen Scholar program to be an example of the outreach and service exemplified by Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission, as well as an informing students’ research,” said Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw. “It is an example of what we call ‘the public good’ and helps build strong links between the community and the university.”
Associate Dean and Professor William Huckle, who taught the Citizen Scholar course, said the projects were excellent examples of linking work to the needs of a greater community. “What has impressed me the most is the enthusiasm and passion they brought to their work,” Huckle said.
This year the Graduate School saluted six graduate students who completed community-focused projects. Megan A. Lorincz, Joanna Papadopoulos, Fadoua El Moustaid, Nicole Hersch, Sarah Bush, and Shelby Ward were recognized during Graduate Education Week for their work.
El Moustaid, of Marrakesh, Morocco, is a Ph.D. student in biological sciences. She mentored an undergraduate student using computer modeling to track disease and helped the student develop biological models to study the transmission process of West Nile Virus.
“We met once a week to go over what he learned together and I explained to him the mathematical and statistical methods he needed to develop a model,” she said. That effort led to a new mentorship project with two undergraduate students.
“Coming from a quantitative background myself, I understand their struggle and what they need to succeed and hopefully pursue a graduate degree,” she said.
Megan A. Lorincz, Joanna Papadopoulos, and Fadoua El Moustaid were recognized as Citizen Scholars by the Graduate School.