New Grad Student Voices: Caleb Alexander, Chemical Engineering


Caleb Alexander

Meet new graduate student Caleb Alexander
I was born and raised in Houston, TX and I got my BS in Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley. I am interested in improving alternative energy technologies and reducing the human impact on the environment.

I chose UT-Austin:
I chose UT because not only are the people here smart, but they’re also really fun to hang out. Also, the city has a vibrant college life and most importantly the faculty in the university are top notch.

I’m excited about:
I’m really excited to learn more Chemical Engineering so I can test out my ideas and, when successful, start my own company.

First impression of Austin was:
My first impression was that Austin is a city where you could have a lot of fun —  from 6th street to kayaking. For me, this is nice because I tend to work hard and I need interesting ways to de-stress.



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New Grad Student Voices: Stefanie Carter, Department of History


S. Carter Pull Quote

I am Stefanie Carter [Department of History], and I am  …
… the first in my family to get a bachelors degree. I am certainly the first to go to graduate school. I feel like I’m jumping into the great unknown, but I am rather ridiculously excited about it – especially at such a great school. I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am right now.

I am here because …
… I received a grant in 2012 that sent me to London for a few weeks to do research, and to present my findings at a research symposium back in the US. It was amazing to have the chance to go, since there’s no possible way I could have afforded it otherwise. I worked in several major London archives, as well as the Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 archive. I also had the chance to spend time in the museums and sites around the city. That project, as well as my further research interests, tend to revolve around class relations in terms of the experience of the working class and those who sought to improve things for them.

I chose UT-Austin because … 
 … the great reputation of the History program, but it also came down to the great reputation of the faculty in the department and the British Studies Program. I had heard that they were not only top in their fields, but also just generally good people to work with.

UT also has such an active research community, with regular lectures and events. I really look forward to becoming a part of that, and being able to expand my knowledge in so many different ways.

I’m very excited about …
… being involved in such a lively research community with so many events and visiting speakers and outlets for discussion. I’m also hoping to be involved in some of the digital projects, like the podcasts. As a British historian in particular, I can’t wait to get lost in the fantastic archives available at the Harry Ransom Center.

I’m looking forward to …
…  my kids being in a much better school system, for sure. As for Austin itself, we’re excited about actually having things to do without driving a few hours to ‘get somewhere.’ Of course, there’s also the great food. I’ve started a list of restaurants.

 If you’d like to add your voice to our New Graduate Student Voices series, simply contact us at

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New Grad Student Voices Series: Valerie Gaimon, School of Social Work



Valerie Gaimon joins the School of Social Work this fall semester to extend her work as a lawyer concentrating on restorative justice. She recently took a few minutes to tell us a bit about herself.

my work “I am passionate about looking at justice through a restorative, rather than retributive lens. I see myself as a bridge-builder between legal policy, academic research, and theoretical underpinning. One of the aspects of social work I love is the importance it places on real-world applications of the research. Having worked around the world I saw so many organizations doing a lot of great work that did not have the ability or knowledge to conduct research into what was working, and then communicate that information to policy-makers so failures could be learned from and successful strategies duplicated on a larger scale.”

free time I enjoy being in nature, meditation and yoga, connecting with family and friends, gardening and cooking, singing and dancing, reading and writing, art and music, and playing cards and Scrabble. I am continually inspired by life’s resilience.

ask me about Living abroad in India, South Africa, Australia, South America

living in austin “I feel blessed that there is so much natural beauty here, as well as creative and open-hearted people.”

?Are you a new graduate student? You can participate in our “Voices” series by contacting our communications department via email

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New Grad Student Voices Series


Dear Readers,

We are happy to announce that we will be spotlighting new grad students this summer through our New Grad Student Voices Series. The goal is to find incoming graduate students who are willing to share a bit about themselves and their areas of study. We will be featuring these students on our homepage through the months of July and August.

Although several students are already participating, we would like to see deeper participation throughout UT-Austin colleges and divisions. If you’ve already participated, THANK YOU! If you’d like to suggest a student from your area, please simply email their contact information and a bit about them (I’ll ask them to tell me more) to maskey [at]

Thank you and, as always, Hook ‘Em!

Meg Askey
Director of Communications
The University of Texas at Austin
Office of Graduate Studies

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Liberal Arts Career Services Offer New Workshops in Careers Beyond Academia

Cap ThrowContrary to what you might think, academia is not the only route to career success and happiness. One career path doesn’t fit all, and not everyone is interested in or able to enter the academic world after graduation. As a graduate student you can pursue a variety of training-related career opportunities, if you’re prepared to jump into the job search. This workshop series is designed to give you the knowledge, skills, and information you need to move forward with your non-academic career plans. Join us for one or all three of our workshops and learn about your career options.

How to Communicate Your Value | March 25, 12:00 – 1:00 PM, CLA 1.302B
Regardless of what career path you are pursuing, you need to know how to communicate with audiences outside of your discipline and outside of academia. This session will provide tips, strategies and sample content for explaining the value and relevance of your grad school experiences to different audiences with a focus on employers outside of academia. Topics include:
* Converting Your CV to a Resume – formatting basics plus content strategies you won’t find online
* Personal Branding – how to identify, communicate and build your brand

Register for the 3/25 now »

Making Your Move – Master the Transition from Student to Professional | April 1, 12:00 – 1:00 PM, CLA 1.302B
Whether you are looking to expand your network or looking for a job, this session will help you connect to people and opportunities outside of academia. We review public and private sector career paths that grad students commonly pursue and provide job search tips, interview strategies and resources specifically tailored to grad students’ needs. Topics include:
* Networking- UT, Texas, national and online resources plus LinkedIn – beyond the basics
* Identifying and Applying to Jobs Outside of Academia
* Interviewing – Questions to expect/ ask and strategies for case and behavioral interviews

Register for the 4/1 now »

Know Your Options (& Keep them Open) | April 8, 12:00 – 1:00 PM, CLA 1.302B
Don’t wait until your ABD to start exploring your Alt-Ac (alternative to academia) options. Contrary to what the term “alt-ac” suggests, preparing for careers outside of the academy doesn’t require you to step off the academic track. You can progress down both tracks simultaneously. This session will explore the broad scope of careers available to you and help you create a professional development plan that gives you multiple post-grad school options. Topics include:
* Myths and misconceptions that limit your potential
* Career opportunities in corporate, government, nonprofit and healthcare sectors
* Resources and strategies for identifying and pursing alt-ac options

Register for the 4/8 now »

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Career Opportunities Beyond Academia with Dr. Mrim Boutla

Boutla Seminar

Dr. Mrim Boutla Photo

Dr. Mrim Boutla conducts a workshop designed to help Ph.D. students plan their careers.
When: March 18, 2014, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Avaya Auditorium (POB)
RSVP:  RSVP online »

When: March 18, 2014, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Avaya Auditorium (POB)
RSVP:  RSVP online »
Dr. Boutla asks that you both a.) register and complete the MTMCareers career assessments in advance of the workshop to maximize your experience and b.) bring your laptop to the session.

Event Details: Join Dr. Mrim Boutla for a workshop designed to help Ph.D. students and postdocs get clear, get connected, and get hired for career opportunities beyond academia. This session, titled Off-Track: Charting your Post-Ph.D. Career Path Beyond Academia, will focus on strategies you can use to get clear about your goals and transferable skills, get connected with like minded professionals and get hired for the types of opportunities that best fit you. This workshop will include examples from Dr. Mrim Boutla’s own transition from cognitive neuroscience to career coaching to social entrepreneurship, as well as case studies from other PhDs who have leveraged their transferable skills to build intellectually and financially rewarding careers across sectors. Whether you want to compete for tenure-track jobs or explore nonacademic paths, attending this workshop will help you learn more about the many options you have to put your Ph.D. skills to work.

Topics Include:

• Translating skills from one sector the another
• Current employment trends
• Identifying employers in one’s impact area
• Leveraging social networks to identify employers 
• Tailoring resumes and cover letters

Speaker Bio: Dr. Mrim Boutla is a cognitive neuroscientist turned career coach and social entrepreneur. Her PhD and postdoctoral research in brain plasticity have been published in peer-reviewed journals including Nature Neuroscience, Cognition, and Cerebral Cortex. Over the past decade, Dr. Boutla has used her cognitive neuroscience background to help students and professionals secure jobs that match their skills, as well as their life and career priorities. She started out as a career coach for PhDs and liberal arts graduates at Brown University. She then served as the career coach for international students and entrepreneurial management MBA students at the Kelley School of Business (Indiana University). In 2010 Dr. Boutla co-founded MTMCareers with Dr. Mark Albion (Faculty Founder of Net Impact). The MTMCareers elearning platform combines coaching and resources to help impact leaders get clear, get connected, and get hired faster for jobs that maximize meaning and money. MTMCareers has deployed their elearning platform across over 30 campuses in the US, and has received the 2013 AshokaU/Cordes Award for Social Innovation. Dr. Boutla earned her Bsc in Psychology from the Université Catholique de Louvain, and her MA and PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester.

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Students Gain Experience in Suicide Prevention Inside and Outside the Classroom

The Research Consortium

The Research Consortium (RC), housed at the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, conducts large scale, national research studies on the mental health issues of college students.

Graduate Students Elizabeth Hentschel and Benjamin Spear entered the Counseling Psychology graduate program in Educational Psychology at The University of Texas for similar reasons. Both Hentschel and Spear wanted to gain solid experience in conducting research and providing clinical services to diverse populations. Spear enjoys the freedom and flexibility that graduate school offers. “What I enjoy most about graduate school is the ability to do different and new things each week… In my average week I am a student taking classes, a graduate assistant for the Be That One. Suicide Prevention Program, a clinician working with clients in individual therapy, and a researcher studying college mental health,” said Spear.

Hentschel and Spear serve as Research Assistants for the National Research Consortium of Counseling Centers in Higher Education. The Research Consortium (RC), housed at the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, conducts large scale, national research studies on the mental health issues of college students. Hentschel serves as the Coordinator for this group where she helps to organize the team, facilitate team meetings, and manage communication among RC members. The Principal Investigators for this group are David Drum, Ph.D. and Chris Brownson, Ph.D. Dr. Drum is a professor in the Counseling Psychology program, and Dr. Brownson serves as  Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center.

Workshop Details

A workshop on how to help friends who may be thinking about suicide geared to TAs/AIs.
Workshop Dates:
February 18th, 7 PM – 8 PM, SAC 1.106
March 3rd, 9 AM- 10 AM, SAC 1.106
March 26th, 12 PM – 1 PM, SAC 3.116
April 8th, 7 PM – 8 PM, SAC 1.106
More Info:
Marian Trattner

The most recent RC study that both Hentschel and Spear have been involved in focused on how distress and suicidality develops in college students and why some distressed students become suicidal, while others do not. This research seeks to understand mental health through a population-based perspective by examining students who are struggling as well as those who are thriving.   The study seeks to understand how students’ sense of belonging, coping strategies, sense of self, and past experiences play a role in how students respond to college stress. Research findings will be used to develop strategies to promote better general mental health for all students, as well as prevent distress from developing into thoughts of suicide.

To supplement this research with relevant applied experience, both also serve as Graduate Assistants for the Be That One. (BT1) Suicide Prevention Program. Housed in the Counseling and Mental Health Center, BT1 addresses suicide prevention on the UT campus in a comprehensive manner by:

  • Raising awareness about the issue of college student suicide.
  • Empowering faculty, staff and students to take an active role in preventing suicide amongst our students.
  • Striving to ensure that UT’s systems, policies, culture, and environment are conducive to students’ mental health.

Hentschel enjoys the opportunity gained from her research with the RC to influence population-based comprehensive suicide prevention efforts on our campus. Said Hentschel, “I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to begin understanding how research and clinical application inform one another.”

Be That One.

Spear, too, feels that his contributions to the BT1 program have been meaningful.  “Even when I first joined, I felt that my input was valued, and that I was able to contribute to the future of the Be That One. Program in a meaningful way. Because of this, I have not felt that working at BT1 was just a job, but instead it feels like a place where I can actually make a positive difference at UT.”

There will be an open suicide prevention workshop for all TA’s and AI’s on February 18th from 7-8 p.m. in SAC room 1.106. More information about the Be That One. Suicide Prevention Program can be found at To book a free workshop for your campus group, email or call (512)475-6962.

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Grad School Staff Changes


The Graduate School will soon bid farewell to Terry Kahn, Debbie Hirsch, Lynn Margason, and Maggie Keeshan.

Our office will soon bid farewell to several members of our professional family.

Dr. Terry Kahn has been with The University of Texas at Austin for over forty-three years. He is both a Professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program at the School of Architecture and the Associate Dean of Student Services at the Graduate School. Dean Kahn is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Upon retirement next summer, Kahn looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, exercising, and volunteering with Project Healing Waters, an organization that focuses on taking wounded veterans fly-fishing.

Debbie Hirsch will retire in February after twenty-eight years at UT, which began at the Learning Disabilities Center. Debbie joined the Graduate School after working off campus in her husband’s car restoration business for fifteen years. She moved from Executive Assistant positions into technology and  Web management. Along the way, she was awarded a UT Outstanding Employee Award. She looks forward to spending her retirement with family, restoring cars with her husband, and creating family history books and DVDs.

Lynn Margason is a Degree Evaluator and has been with the Office of Graduate Studies for her entire twenty-four years at UT Austin. Lynn plans a rich retirement and looks forward to spending more time on her favorite interests: maintaining her farm and ranch, riding horses, writing, cooking, and further pursuing love of photography. Lynn also hopes to continue in finding ways to serve her community.

Maggie Keeshen is an Executive Assistant and has been with UT Austin for a total of thirty-five years. She began her time with Office of Graduate Studies in 1980. Before that, Maggie worked in grant-funded projects with Engineering and Education professors and helped James Michener set up the Texas Center for Writers and prepare two books for publication. Upon retirement, Maggie plans to travel—her next trip will be to Spain and the Balearic islands—sleep-in, and volunteer with one of Austin’s animal shelters.

Other staff changes include position movements and welcoming new employees.

New staff members include:

Meg Askey is our new Director of Communications. Meg has over fifteen years’ experience developing digital media in academia, and comes to us from The University of Texas Press, where she was the Web & Online Media Manager.

Elizabeth Korves joins us as Assistant Fellowship Manager at the graduate school. Elizabeth comes to us from the Department of Astronomy, where she served as the Managing Editor of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Molly Miller is a recent graduate in history from Texas Lutheran University. Molly comes to us from volunteer positions at the Bob Bullock Museum and the Austin History Center and serves as our Main Receptionist.

Staff moves:

Rebekah Sylvia came to us last spring from Harvard University, where she was a Student Affairs Manager for The Division of Medical Sciences. Rebekah recently moved from our Main Receptionist position to a new role as Senior Administrative Associate.

Danielle Thoma arrived at the Graduate School from Caldwell University in New Jersey, where she was Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions. She was recently reclassified to a Program Coordinator and will work with the External Relations area on campus-wide programs to support graduate students.

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The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School

The Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austinprovides access to resources, services and funding to support more than 11,000 graduate students enrolled in graduate programs at the university.

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