Graduate Student Senate to host first skill-development conference Jan. 31

As part of the university’s efforts to support graduate and professional students more effectively, Case Western Reserve and the Graduate Student Senate will host the first Personal Skills Development Conference Jan. 31. The conference, held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Thwing Center, is free and open to all graduate and professional students and postdoctoral scholars.

The conference will focus on personal development skills that will benefit individuals in their careers.

“Success is not dictated only by the classes we go to and the grades we get,” said conference organizer Yotam Blech-Hermoni, a doctoral candidate in the Program in Cell Biology, Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology. “One of the purposes for this conference is to introduce students to what’s outside the classroom, to the resources that are available.”

Seminars include:

  • Overcoming Anxiety from Public Speaking
  • Management and Leadership Skills
  • Developing Your Professional Network
  • Achieving Work-Life Balance
  • Interdepartmental Politics
  • Emotional Intelligence & Collaborative Leadership
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Stress Management & Interpersonal Relations.

Speakers will represent departments such as the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education, the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, University Health Services, University Counseling Services, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Inclusion Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Career Center and the Office of Human Resources. There also will be speakers from the schools, including the Case School of Engineering, the Weatherhead School of Management and the School of Medicine’s Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative. There even will be a special session on mentoring, featuring past winners of the John S. Diekhoff Awards for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching & Mentoring.

When planning the event, Blech-Hermoni opted to use only Case Western Reserve faculty and staff members as experts.

“It was important to me to build the relationship between students and faculty,” he said. “It’s rare they have a real relationship outside class, and I feel it’s not only good for their experience but also for their research and careers.”

Quentin Jamieson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics and former president of the Graduate Student Senate, noted that showcasing the extensive resources across campus is critical. Though there are myriad resources available, he said, most of them are run through individual schools, so students outside those units are unaware of what’s offered.

Plus, Jamieson noted, the timing is right for conferences like this to begin. The Graduate Student Senate passed a resolution supporting the creation of a Center for Professional Development on campus—an effort that also is included in the university’s new strategic plan, “Think Beyond The Possible”—and federal granting agencies such as the National Institutes of Health are instituting programs supporting researchers’ professional development.

“The landscape is changing. Most [principal investigators] and other researchers grew up in a setting where you really only had to be a great researcher to succeed,” he said. “Now you must also be interdisciplinary, have good networking and communication skills and more. These are skills we need beyond the lab or classroom to remain competitive, and this conference is a good way to start changing the culture here.”

The event is organized by the Graduate Student Senate and cosponsored by the School of Graduate Studies, the Division of Student Affairs and the School of Medicine. About 10 graduate and professional students from a mix of schools and the college serve on the committee to create the event.

Registration is free to all Case Western Reserve University graduate and professional students and postdoctoral scholars, but it is limited. Interested individuals must register online by Tuesday, Jan. 28.

For more information, or to view a schedule of events, visit