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Professional Development

Here is our September and October 2020 Lineup (download the pdf version here). These events will be hyperlinked and listed our myUMBC site soon!

+PROMISE events are organized with underrepresented minority (URM) students in mind, but are open to all students. PROMISE was an NSF grant funded initiative from 2003-2018 to support URM graduate students in STEM but has now been institutionalized – while aiming to support it has always welcomed participants from all backgrounds and disciplines.

Some history: PROMISE has developed many professional development programs to help all students, but particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, find community, academic and personal support, mentorship, and skill building. These have ranged from monthly success seminars on effective research poster design, inclusive teaching practices, or preparing for an academic job trajectory, to annual signature events that bring students and alumni and faculty together. Our latest events can be found in the sidebar of this page or on our myUMBC site.

Here is a bit more detail about a few of our signature annual programs:

  1. Dissertation House
  2. Fall Harvest Dinner
  3. USM PROMISE AGEP Research Symposium
  4. Summer Success Institute (SSI)

Dissertation House

The Dissertation House is a multi-day intensive writing experience, held on campus, with built in support and encouragement through workshops, one-on-one coaching, and seminars. Led by expert dissertation coach, Dr. Wendy Carter-Veale, this opportunity allows graduate students to make significant progress on writing their dissertation, preparing for their defense, and communicating effectively with faculty. Participants not only get assistance during the four-day program, but also have the opportunity to receive continued one-on-one coaching with Dr. Carter Veale in the semester following Dissertation House. Alumni of this very popular program cannot say enough positive things about the difference this made in their confidence and their completion of their graduate work. Spots and limited and are available on a first come first serve basis.

Fun fact: Why is it called Dissertation House? The first “Dissertation House” session was held in a large cabin as part of a West Virginia graduate student community-building retreat sponsored by PROMISE: Maryland’s AGEP, an NSF-supported initiative.  Over the years, the Dissertation House has moved on-campus and is supported through the UMBC Graduate School. It continues to be a very in-demand program that has helped many students finish their proposals and dissertations.

Fall Harvest Dinner

Fall Harvest is a thanksgiving-style celebration that happens the Friday before Thanksgiving, every November on College Park’s campus. Fall Harvest started in the fall of 2003 and has been going strong ever since. This celebration brings together students and their family and friends from across the University System of Maryland campuses for an evening of food, fellowship, and fun. Families of students, staff, and alumni often attend, recognizing the value of including critical family in one’s academic community (see more about the “Jessica Effect” here).  As one of the main staple events offered during the year, this event brings together everyone for a great celebration and delicious meal.
University System of Maryland PROMISE AGEP Research Symposium

This annual symposium occurs in the spring and presents a forum to discuss graduate student research at our system’s regional universities, colleges and industry internships. Oral and poster presentations of research by students are featured and dozens of faculty volunteer to participate as judges and mentors to ensure each participant gets impactful feedback on their work. The best of each presentation category will receive an award!

Summer Success Institute (SSI)

This is a two-day conference for senior undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career faculty from the University System of Maryland (USM) institutions, from across all fields, who identify themselves as historically underrepresented in graduate education. The purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity to network with students from different campuses, find mentors, and provide a sense of belonging for participants, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. We especially welcome individuals who are first-generation, Latinx/Hispanic, Black/African American, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, females in Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics, LGTBQIA+, and/or students with disabilities.

Summer Success Institute (SSI) provides an opportunity to network and create connections with alumni, faculty, postdocs, and current students of our University System of Maryland, connections that we believe might help in successfully navigate the rigorous journey of their graduate studies and further their careers. The SSI provides a “critical mass” of graduate students who let them know that they are not alone and that they can succeed. The goal of the SSI is to empower grad students to succeed, provide secrets of success (including MANY unwritten rules), provide a sense of community, and foster new friendships.

Fun fact: Our Summer Success Institute exists since 2003 and it has been replicated in other institutions like Cornell University, Summer Success Symposium (S3).