Professional Development and Events

Grad15: Talking about imposter syndrome

Grad15 imposter syndrome mental health mindfulness
By Zach Reeves-Burton on August 24, 2020

As we prepare for another semester, the Graduate College's Student Support Resources team paired up with the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience to deliver programming about how graduate students can overcome imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?

Often affecting high-achieving, driven individuals -- adjectives that describe most graduate students -- imposter syndrome can lead to anxiety and depression. By some estimates, over 70% of graduate students will face imposter syndrome at some point in their academic career, yet many of these students suffer in silence.

Starting the conversation

The Graduate College's Zachary Reeves-Blurton led a conversation around Elizabeth Cox's 2018 TED-Ed video What is Imposter Syndrome and How Can You Combat It?

Focusing on the inherent challenges in addressing imposter syndrome, Reeves-Blurton argued that we have to first deconstruct the imposter phenomenon and reframe the lenses through which we approach it.

The Graduate Student Success Resources team then joined Drs.Teri Pipe, Nika Gucci, and the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience team for a special Midday Mindfulness session dedicated to imposterism among graduate students during which first-year History graduate student Joseph Dorion and fourth-year Biomedical Engineering student Peiyuan Wang discussed their experiences with imposterism and strategies they've used to combat it.

In opening space for dialogue and the normalization of imposter syndrome, the Graduate College and Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience hope to begin shifting the narrative around this phenomenon.

Watch the Midday Mindfulness episode.

Download the presentationDownload the PDF: Developing resilience and overcoming imposter syndrome