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UMBC makes a PROMISE to its grad students

UMBC receives a lot of praise for its budding and ‘innovative’ undergraduate program, but this attention often leaves the university’s graduate programs (and subsequently its students) ignored.

Thankfully, the PROMISE Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate caters specifically to these students of higher education. Founded over a decade ago in 2003 as an alliance between three of the biggest Maryland Universities – UMBC, University of Maryland Baltimore and the University of Maryland College Park – the organization describes itself as a “university system-wide effort for the state of Maryland to facilitate underrepresented STEM graduate student and postdoctoral professional development and pathways to careers.”

On Friday, Sept. 9, PROMISE held an opening event designed to bring together new and returning PROMISE members to get to know each other and get welcomed back into the new semester. To find out more about the organization and what makes it beneficial to the university’s graduate students, The Retriever got in touch with Amanda Lo, a graduate assistant for the PROMISE AGEP team and for the Career-Life Balance Initiative.

When asked about what PROMISE does for graduate students, Lo discussed how the group helps them towards their future degree and career goals. “[It] assists UMBC graduate students by providing professional development seminars and workshops, while providing a sense of community where attendees can feel welcomed, be mentored, feel inspired, receive support throughout their graduate career, be recognized for graduating and meet students from other disciplines who are also on their way to receiving a Master’s or Ph.D. degrees.”

In this way, Lo described PROMISE as providing a “support system and a sense of belonging for graduate students, particularly underrepresented minorities in STEM fields and increasing the graduation rate of underrepresented minorities.”

According to Lo, these opportunities and advantages are what help make PROMISE a successful organization, stating that, “It welcomes members from the entire University System of Maryland through providing a plethora of professional development workshops and opportunities to attend conferences that can assist the participant on their way to graduate completion.”

While PROMISE already appears to have a firm goal in mind, this doesn’t stop the organization from looking into ways to grow their organization and make it even better than it currently is. Lo describe how the organization hopes to use the current seminars and workshop they currently provide to help graduate students, “receive support, mentorship, opportunities for networking, advice, inspiration and a sense of belonging as they complete their graduate studies or postdoctoral experiences” through events such as “TA Training, Work-Life Balance Workshop, Funding Your Graduate Education, Dissertation House, Financial Literacy on Credit Scores, How to Develop a Syllabus, and Grant Writing.”

Not only does PROMISE provide a boost of encouragement and opportunities for graduate students, it also reminds us all of the crucial role that higher level education plays at UMBC and how the university’s undergraduate reputation isn’t the only shiny trophy on the university’s mantle.