Posted by: gcarkner | August 20, 2012

Faculty Endorsements of GCU

Long hours in the laboratory, thesis proposals, the weight of comprehensive exams means that a grad student needs a support infrastructure. I can’t speak highly enough about getting involved with a group on campus like GCU, and also finding a good church home base. Also as you are walking into your office or biking into campus, try praying for your profs, fellow students, or admin staff; this can help stimulate surprisingly fruitful conversations. And don’t forget that you are here to serve undergrads with grace. Feel free to track me down for coffee; I love ideas exchange.

~Dr. Craig Mitton, PhD

Associate Professor

School of Population and Public Health

As a graduate student several decades ago I found the Grad Christian Union community at my university uplifting spiritually and socially. In an often chilly secular environment, it was a great venue to meet other grads outside my own field and cultural background and develop friendships and join in events with those who shared the same core values. I am still in contact with several of these friends 30 years later. With some other faculty and graduate students, I helped to launch the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum a number of years ago. Gord has been a solid advisor to this group as well 

~Dr. David Ley

Professor Department of Geography

University of British Columbia

There is no more important bellwether for our society and our culture than the university — and yet Christians within academia often travel incognito, which isn’t good for them, isn’t good for the university, and isn’t good for other Christians, who often feel alone when really they’re not. A ministry to grad students and thus provides a vital venue where Christians can connect, show their colours, and stimulate each other to play the full role they’re called to play as fully alive and “out” followers of Christ. Decide to be a public Christian at UBC.

~Dr. Dennis Danielson

Professor of English

University of British Columbia

Graduate research is often like looking for a lightswitch in a totally dark room. It can be frustrating at times. It certainly was for me! It was invaluable for me to have close connection with other Christians whom I could share that load with, and who were praying for me.

 ~Dr. Bé Wassink

Instructor, Materials Engineering

University of British Columbia

How to Succeed as a Graduate Student?   ~Martin Ester
I am Martin Ester  a computer science professor at SFU who has supervised graduate students for more than ten years. I am also a Christian who is convinced that my faith is relevant to all aspects of my and our world. I continue to enjoy this part of my job very much and have the impression that my students also do enjoy their studies, at least once in a while. Sometimes current or prospective students ask me for advice how to succeed, and I have tried to distill the following short advice, which will hopefully be useful not only for computer science students.

1) Make sure to know why you are doing this
Make sure that you know why you are going to grad school. The monetary benefit of earning a higher salary with a graduate degree may be smaller than you think. And the reputation of your degree may also not be worth investing several years of your life (you have only one!). You may waste part of your life and will not even succeed with your graduate studies if you do not have a better answer. I believe that you need to have a passion for your thesis topic, an inner motivation to explore that helps you to overcome the inevitable hard times during grad school. On the other hand, your studies need a purpose that goes beyond your own interests, and you should have a realistic understanding of how your studies will help you to better serve “humanity”. Keep in mind that, e.g., not every PhD can have an academic career.

2) Be hungry to learn and be teachable:
I have often noticed that super smart grad students with a somewhat arrogant attitude have the feeling that “they have arrived already” and are neither working hard enough nor willing to accept guidance from their supervisor. As a consequence, they tend to be less successful than grad students who may be a tick less intelligent but are really hungry to learn and willing to accept both encouragement and correction from their supervisor or from other people such as reviewers of their scientific papers. Read as many good books and papers as possible. Discuss your research with your supervisor, with other professors, with your fellow students. Apply and test the results of your research in industry, government or where possible. Finally, ask the deep questions and try to come up with solid, new answers.

3) Maintain your balance:
This advice may surprise you the most. Do not get me wrong, you must work hard, really hard to succeed in grad school. However, while grad school is very important, realize that there is more to life. Take care of your body by feeding it properly and exercising enough. Do not neglect your social life, but cultivate meaningful friendships at school and outside. And pay attention to the spiritual dimension of your life which connects you to God. As Jesus summarized when asked for the greatest commandment: “Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and body. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Do not postpone the seeking of balance in your life until after grad school, when “things will get better”. Things will not get better, but worse: you will get only busier in the course of your life. Therefore, start finding and maintaining your balance now!

~Dr. Martin Ester, Computer Science, Simon Fraser University


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