Graduate and professional students at Case Western Reserve University are much more than just students. They’re researchers, teachers and leaders.

Through their efforts in their research, graduate and professional students make new breakthroughs in their fields. The organizations they lead improve the lives of their fellow students and enrich their experiences at the university. Their work also has wide-reaching effects on people in the community, who benefit from the developments of new resources in fields from health care to social justice to engineering—and everything in between.

Graduate and professional students make significant impacts on all levels at Case Western Reserve. For all of these reasons, one week each spring is set aside to celebrate the contributions they make on a daily basis.

This year’s Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week ends today, but the week has been full of events geared specifically toward graduate and professional students in all different disciplines. From Monday’s Kick-Off Pizza Party to tonight’s formal ball, students have had many opportunities to get involved and meet their peers, which is a main tenet of the celebration.

The National Association of Graduate and Professional Students initially launched the weeklong event in 1993 to honor graduate teaching assistants. The event grew in 1995 when all graduate and professional students were included in the annual celebration.

Get to know three graduate/professional students who have made significant contributions to the university.

Jose Diaz

Jose Diaz

Jose Diaz

Full-time, second-year MBA student with an emphasis in design and innovation, Weatherhead School of Management; international student from Costa Rica; president of the Graduate Student Business Association

What’s it like to be an international graduate student here?

This place is really well-suited for international students because sometimes you don’t feel international. You stop thinking about it and you just become part of it. I don’t know if it’s the city, the school or a combination of both, but it’s very open to other people’s ideas, regardless of where they’re from. I have classmates from all over the world.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I have two plans. I’m starting work at Goodyear in July in the Global Innovation Department where we do service design. But before that, I want to travel a little bit. I just did a week-long study program in Morocco where we met with non-for-profit organizations that are working to create more companies in Morocco, especially in villages. They’re focusing more on women. My hope is to go back there and donate three weeks of my time in June to work with them to teach them what we’re doing at Weatherhead: design thinking and how that can impact your business.

Carly Hodgins

Carly Hodgins

Carly Hodgins

Second-year Master of Science in Social Administration student with an emphasis in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences; president of Student Leaders Advocating for Mental Health

What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?

I love the city of Cleveland. I think being in the Uptown neighborhood is very fun and exciting, especially because there are a lot of changes that are going on. Within the Mandel School, one of the things I appreciate most is that it has such focus on doing work in the field. We’re getting really great, hands-on experience that applies to what I’ll be doing in the future.

What organization are you involved in that has influenced you?

I’m the president of SLAM, which is Student Leaders Advocating for Mental Health. During orientation, they introduced the different organizations we had within the Mandel School, and that was one of them. It existed before we came here, but there weren’t previous members, so we got together and collaborated on the type of programs we wanted to bring to the students here and to the community in general. We do try to do larger advocacy things, whether it’s “Stigma’s a Drag” or having a team for the NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Health] walk to fundraise. It’s nice to get the word out to get more awareness for mental health.

Chaturia Rouse

Chaturia Rouse

Chaturia Rouse

Second-year Master of Medical Physiology student, School of Medicine; Mentoring and Diekhoff Award committee chair for Graduate Student Senate

Why is it important to have Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week?

I think when you are in graduate school, it can be kind of isolating because you’re focused on a certain trajectory. Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week allows people to come together in a social way to meet potential future colleagues. It’s also nice to feel wanted and appreciated.

What is your favorite Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week event?

Last year in the foyer of the Biomedical Research Building, they had hors d’oeuvres. That was really fun because it gave us the chance to mingle with graduate students from other departments.