Guest Opinion: Recognizing our University of Iowa graduate and professional students 

Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week is coming up from April 20-24. It's important to honor these Hawkeyes' contributions.


Joseph Cress

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.

Graduate and professional programs are foundational to the University of Iowa. Having a wide number of quality graduate and professional programs allows for unique collaborations, and teaching opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. A quarter of the student body is enrolled in one of these graduate and professional programs, which help to enrich the tapestry of our university. 

Graduate and professional students volunteer their time to improve our local community in a variety of ways — from the thousands of hours of pro bono work donated by law students through the Citizen Lawyer Program to the countless patients treated without cost by health professional students. As students, our contributions and value are meaningful and impactful.

Importantly, we are the future teachers, lawyers, accountants, health-care providers, researchers, artists and writers of Iowa. Nearly half of the physicians and pharmacists, and three-fourths of the dentists practicing in the state are UI-educated, and our UI-educated law professionals live and work in 96 counties in Iowa. More than numbers, the services provided — from teaching to research — advance policies and well-being of Iowans. 

However graduate and professional schools are a highly difficult endeavor. We are in higher education for twice as long, and often two to three times more in debt than our undergraduate counterparts. For all of our contributions on campus and across the state, there are few opportunities to appreciate our students. That is the importance of having a Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week. Even during these hectic times of the pandemic, we can not lose sight of our students. 

The UI appreciation week on April 20-24 will be the third appreciation week at the UI. Graduate and Professional Student Government, Graduate Student Senate, and the Graduate College have created programming for the appreciation week. In light of COVID-19, all the programming is online. In addition, we have developed a social-media campaign centered around #ILoveGradProfStudents with a supporting website for all our programming.

So here’s to the graduate students spending countless hours combing over literature, here’s to the master’s students spending late nights on their thesis, here’s to the health professional students working the long hours in clinic, here’s to the law students mastering the skills of our complex judicial system, here’s to the business students working to master the intricacies of finances and the economy. We appreciate you. 

— Thomas Pak, GPSG vice president

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