Clubs for Grad Students, Too
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 02:09
When Georgetown’s Ultimate’s Catholic Justice Team faces off in tournaments, opponents are likely unaware that among the freshmen stands doctoral candidate Danton Noriega-Goodwin.
Noriega-Goodwin, who is pursuing a doctorate in economics, joined the Ultimate team three years ago when he first started his graduate program.
“Ultimate is for me an escape. It’s a thing that I do that keeps me sane and happy,” Noriega-Goodwin said.
He decided to join Club Ultimate after learning about the sport a few years earlier.
“I never heard about Frisbee until I graduated,” Noriega-Goodwin said. “I looked into it as a grad student but I never played very seriously.”
Noriega-Goodwin is in good company. His teammate and captain, Charlie Patten (COL ’13, GRD ’15), is a graduate student in the math and statistics departments. Patten played and served as captain during his years as an undergraduate at Georgetown and said that as a graduate student his role is perceived the same way.
“I think all the guys see me as another member. I think we have a good rapport since they re-elected me as captain,” Patten said. “They’re some of my closest friends.”
Noriega-Goodwin and Patten are just two of a handful of graduate students who have found a home in Georgetown’s myriad number of undergraduate clubs.
Raquel Silva (GRD ’15), a graduate student in the Italian department, joined the undergraduate GU Catholic Choir after finding a lack of outlets for interacting with fellow graduate students.
“There are not a lot of big graduate organizations that provide community. There’s less of a community for grad students. Because grad students only get one or two years, they don’t cater to us to form a bigger community,” Silva said. “Choir is really welcoming to extending community to grad students. It’s nice to see familiar faces on campus.”
Many graduate students have found a home in Bulldog Alley as disc jockeys with WGTB Radio, which was exclusively for undergraduates until last year.
“Around the fall of 2012, we had a couple of grad students who were interested,” WGTB General Manager Allie Prescott (COL ’14) said. “Since I had control over who could and couldn’t apply at that time, I worked with the general manager at the time and allowed them to apply and join the organization.”
Kylan Watson (GRD ’15), a student in the journalism program at the School of Continuing Studies, reached out to clubs that would allow him to explore broadcast journalism and meet people on campus, settling on WGTB, GUTV and the Gospel Choir.
Despite being older than most of the members of these clubs, Watson said that there is no difference in terms of how he is treated by members.
“Unless I’m introducing myself and identifying my class year, I can just blend in,” Watson said. “Because I’m just a year out of college, the difference isn’t as profound as with other grad students who are several years out.”
In addition to singing with undergraduate students, Silva was the host of the Italian-interest radio show “L’Ora Italiana” last semester on WGTB.
“The Italian department gives us a stipend to do things to promote the department and so that’s how we got involved in WGTB,” Silva said. “Our professor wanted us to do an hour weekly radio show to promote Italian culture and play some songs and get the Italian students listening.”
While the application process to join WGTB is the same for all students, WGTB gives grad students more flexibility with additional requirements.
“We normally make our DJs do a couple of things other than going on their shows every week,” Prescott said. “We don’t hold grad students to do anything other than their show every week and honor their contract because we understand that they have different schedules.”
Prescott said that her club benefits from having both graduate and undergraduate students.
“I think undergrads have a lot to learn from grad students just in the nature that they’re a little bit more adult in certain ways that undergrads aren’t,” Prescott said.
Watson relishes the advisory role he has taken in both WGTB and Gospel Choir.
“I can give advice to other people because I was there a year ago. I’ve been able to advise a lot of my friends who are juniors and seniors,” Watson said. “I like being able to interact with undergrads because of their vigor and energy.”
Silva said that graduate students have the opportunity to broaden undergraduate students’ perspectives.
“I feel like, as an undergrad, you kind of have a narrow perspective, you’re very concerned with school and your activities,” Silva said. “I think graduate students can try to direct students more away from school life and into the outside world.”
Some graduate students, however, express regret that they are unable to hold leadership positions in the organizations in which they’ve invested their time.
“I really want to be able to get a leadership position, but because I’m a grad student there’s something against that,” Watson said. “I would love to be able to lead something. … Unfortunately, my time has passed.”
For Noriega-Goodwin, however, the camaraderie and acceptance he has found as a member of Ultimate is unrivaled. He said that undergraduate students have encouraged him to participate more and attend tournaments with the team.
“I thought it was amazing that these guys were reaching out and encouraging me,” Noriega-Goodwin said. “My quality of life would be substantially lower if I couldn’t play Ultimate.”