Vina Smith '18 on Graduate School

 

Vina Smith, St. Lawrence University '18

Vina Smith, a senior in this year’s graduating class, plans on attending graduate school after leaving St. Lawrence’s campus. I sat down with her and picked her brain about the application process, how she decided on this next step, and what advice she would pass on to any undergraduate women interested in pursuing grad school!

HC St Law U: Tell us a little bit about yourself- where are you from, what have you been studying during your four years at St. Lawrence, what have been your favorite courses, and what areas of campus are you involved in?

Vina Smith: I am a senior from Whitesboro, New York and I am majoring in Anthropology with a double minor in French and Public Health. Since arriving at St. Lawrence, some of my favorite courses have been Current French Writing and Culture, Global Health and Justice, Plagues and Peoples, and Global Advocacy for Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health. On campus, I am a varsity coxswain for the Women’s Rowing Team, an Admissions Ambassador, Orientation Leader, trained Advocate, and member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society!

 

HC St Law U: Where will you be attending grad school/what program?

Vina Smith: After being accepted into my two top choice programs and taking a long time to deliberate over a decision, I have finally decided on attending grad school at George Washington University in D.C. to pursue my Masters of Public Health in Global Health Policy.

 

HC St Law U: How did you decide to pursue graduate school over employment? Have there been any specific people or experiences during your undergraduate years that have inspired you to make this decision?

Vina Smith: Choosing graduate school over employment was an easy decision for me because I have known since sophomore year that I am very passionate about public health. In this discipline, an MPH degree is pretty essential for employment opportunities, so I knew well in advance of senior year that grad school would be the path for me immediately following graduation. My St. Lawrence academic advisor, Dr. Mindy Pitre, has been very influential in inspiring me to make this decision, as well as Dr. Karin Heckman, who first introduced me to public health back in sophomore year. My parents have also been incredibly supportive!

 

HC St Law U: What was the application/testing (if any) process like?

Vina Smith: The application process was similar to undergraduate applications. Instead of taking the SAT, I had to study for and take the GRE, which I did the summer between junior and senior year. The applications required letters of recommendation and personal statement essays explaining why you wanted to pursue that specific degree at that specific institution. I applied to four programs in total. While it was definitely a stressful process, planning ahead and being organized really helped me get everything done in a timely fashion!

 

HC St Law U: Do you have any tips or advice for other women who are considering graduate school as part of their future plans?

Vina Smith: My advice to any other women who are considering graduate school is to plan ahead. Graduate school can be expensive and isn’t for everyone; talk to your advisor, your parents, Career Services, and other resources to see if the career path you’re interested in requires a graduate degree. Even if a graduate degree is not required, your employment prospects and ability to find a job in many career fields will be made significantly easier once you have a graduate degree under your belt. If after putting thought into it you still decide on pursuing a graduate degree, congrats! Higher education is a fantastic opportunity. Reach out to recent SLU alumni who are enrolled in graduate programs, and start researching which programs in which cities might be right for you! Remember that even if the program seems to be a perfect fit, the geographic location should also play a big role in whether or not you want to apply to that school. It is common to find a job placement in the city you complete a graduate degree in, so make sure you are applying to schools in places you could picture yourself living!

(Photo Credit: Vina Smith personal photo)