Graduate Insider - From the Dean's Desk

Making a fresh start

My best friend growing up had her birthday on August 5, which of course is right before the start of school. As fate would have it, my son was born on August 5. My friend made sure to advise me not to give him school supplies for this birthday. I protested, “Who doesn’t love fresh notebooks, newly sharpened pencils, cool backpacks, even new erasers? There are so many good things!” “That’s true,” she said, “but the other kids are getting new school supplies AND birthday gifts.” I got the point. 

The new school year is about a fresh start—the anticipation of learning, meeting new people, advancing your degree and even shopping for new textbooks and supplies, which can be exciting. For new graduate students, this might mean living in a new town and taking that first step toward a graduate degree. It may even mean being back-to-school after taking time off. For seasoned graduate students, it could mean just grinding away in the lab and pushing toward finishing the degree. 

This fall semester, ASU has the largest number of enrolled graduate students. There are 29,933 of you in on-campus and online programs. Congratulations on being one of them—but know too that we value each and every one of you and the work you are doing.

If you’re new to ASU or new to your graduate degree, let me say Welcome! I wish you the best on the journey! 

And if you’re not new to ASU or you’re a returning graduate student, I say Welcome back! I’m excited you’re here!

It seems remiss to focus exclusively on the excitement of the new year. We are still in a time of crisis and while the new school year brings excited anticipation, for some, it may also evoke feelings of anxiety and uncertainty over the economy, housing, and health as these and other challenges continue to plague our lives. These are very real issues and the summer months only amplified those concerns for many. In the work I’m doing, I strive to make the lives of the people I serve better.

How can you make your life better? It may seem simple, but my advice to you is to make an effort to meet someone new. It might not be your new best friend or even someone you see again, but it will build your social capital and feels good - even for introverts. There are always new faces around—so just say hi to someone who looks lost or might need a friendly face.

Oh, by the way, a few weeks ago, my son and I went shopping for his school supplies, which were not his birthday presents!

What are the best things for you about a new school year? What are the fun memories you will create and what do you anticipate for this year? Please share and tag us (@ASUGradCollege and @LibbyAWentz) on social media.


Elizabeth A. Wentz
Vice Provost and Dean
Graduate College