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GWISE: Graduate Women Supporting Each Other

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Written by Michelle Stolzoff, a fourth year PhD student in Bioengineering.

About Me

Michelle Stolzoff is a fourth year PhD student in Bioengineering, and does her research with the Webster Nanomedine Lab in Chemical Engineering. She first got involved with GWISE after their presentation at grad orientation, starting as Fundraising Chair, and has since led the group as President. In addition to GWISE, she has been involved with the College of Engineering Student Research Engagement Committee and spearheaded the first Boston Biomaterials Day conference in 2016. When she isn’t in the lab, at a conference or volunteering for one Northeastern thing or another, she spends her free time throwing pottery, climbing rocks and chilling with her cat. (What she should be doing with her free time is writing her thesis, because she’s supposed to graduate this semester.)

GWISE: Graduate Women Supporting Each Other

The Graduate Women in Science and Engineering student group at Northeastern is, as you might expect, aimed for women pursuing a graduate degree in STEM. What we are is a small group of graduate students who want to organize events to provide professional and personal development to women in the sciences, as well as the support and resources that are necessary to be successful. These events are open to all graduate students at Northeastern, including men (you don’t have to ask, you’re welcome to come!), because we believe that these and skills and resources that everyone should have access to, not just one gender, race or background.

Since our start in 2012, we have grown from primarily hosting our annual Resume Lightning Round (formerly known as Resume Speed Dating), to several events throughout year in professional development, invited speakers, panel events, outreach and socials. When I started the panel events, I wanted to address the nebulous void that is “what are you going to do after you graduate?” that so many grad students dread hearing. We’ve looked at industry and academic paths, and hope to continue to broaden the scope of what grad students can do with their degrees. We’ve also invited several local companies to provide recruiting workshops (Mathworks) as well as interview skills (Google).

In addition to events that focus on improving grad students’ skills and careers, we also provide opportunities to communicate science to the public through several outreach events. It’s incredibly important to promote science, and show kids that science, engineering and math are all pretty cool as well as approachable. Last year we volunteered at John Ward Elementary After-school to teach a weekly “Get Wise with GWISE” session to their after-school students, and for the past few years we have volunteered with the Museum of Science’s Nanodays (April 8th this year!).

Grad school can be hard at times—especially when your experiments fail for a second and third time—so one of the directions I’ve tried to grow this group is in the community-building events. Two years ago we introduce the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Social to our lineup, and this year we partnered with Grad-Q and had a ridiculously great turnout! Every winter we hold a cookie decorating break during finals week, since it’s always a stressful time whether you’re taking classes or not. We’ve also partnered with the Northeastern Biotech Entrepreneurs group to have a mixer event at Uno. While a student group that is all work and no play is by no means dull, there’s absolutely no reason it can’t be fun!

In my four years at Northeastern, I don’t have the words to describe how great it’s been to be here and to be a part of GWISE. I know that the group has, and will continue to do great things, and I really look forward to seeing what it accomplishes in the years to come!

Related Departments:Bioengineering