Black Graduate Student Association helps minorities

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

When she graduated in May, her father gave her two options—get a job or go to graduate school. Unsure if she was ready to jump into the workforce, she decided graduate school was her best choice.

Sherry Gunn, president of the Black Graduate Student Association, said even though she was unsure about what to study at graduate school, she knew she enjoyed the aspects of college and helping fellow minorities. This is why she chose to get her master’s degree in student affairs and works in the Gateway office.

“I wanted to make sure that I was there to promote an opportunity for [minorities],” Gunn said.

BGSA is an organization dedicated to helping African-American graduate students and those who are thinking about pursing graduate studies. BGSA has been a program at Eastern for at least five years, Gunn said.

Gunn said students within the organization are able to discuss the challenges, stresses and issues minority students may face while being in graduate school. In any given class, there may be only two or three minority graduate students. Gunn said there are approximately 80 black graduate students on Eastern’s campus.

“Everyone needs a place to vent; our issues may be different from everyone else’s,” Gunn said.

BGSA is also a national program with the members often participating in conferences and getting professional development skills as well as networking, Gunn said.

The program will help students figure out when to apply for graduate school, or give them information about graduate school if it is something they may want to pursue.

BGSA can also assist students with the graduate record exam if it is needed. Gunn said students sometimes miss out on getting a graduate assistantship because they apply too late.

Gunn said one of the hardest parts about any student being in graduate school or being in a graduate assistantship is finding where to fit in while being on and off campus.

As graduate assistants they are still students but they often work on campus. Therefore, going out to any of the bars in Charleston is somewhat frowned upon, Gunn said.

Many of the students in BGSA are also in Graduate Student Advisory Council, but the two organizations are different.

Roberto Hodge (@BertoHodge) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].