3 questions: Support the families of graduate students | MIT News


When you have a family, life becomes a balancing act of supporting your loved ones while managing your personal responsibilities. At MIT, three offices play a central role in supporting graduate students with families – their partners, their children – as they create that balance.

Naomi Carton is Associate Dean for Residential Graduate Education (GRE), supporting the entire graduate residential community through programming, leadership, and opportunities such as tailored Family Housing opportunities for their residents. . At the Office of Graduate Studies (OGE), WO Marshall – Program Administrator for Families of Graduate Students – works closely with partners across campus to help graduate students bridge the gap between their academic careers and their lives. personal as parents. Both the Carton and Marshall offices provide graduate student partner support, but that support is the focus of attention from Jennifer Recklet Tassi, Senior Program Director at MIT Spouses & Partners Connect. Tassi and her team support the growth of their members through consultations, programs, events and other opportunities for members to connect, pursue their goals and learn about life in the Greater Boston. The three recently spoke about their role in supporting families of graduate students.

Question: MIT is a community of students, staff and professors… but also families. What do you want the MIT community to know about the families of graduate students from the Institute?

Cardboard: Our graduate families are a special population at MIT. They come here with a wealth of experiences and experiences that the whole community can learn from.

Marshal: Our graduate student families with children come in all shapes and sizes. We have graduate students with children from newborn to 25 and over, and family sizes from one child (and potentially growing) to three or four children. Some of our graduate student families are international and find themselves navigating a new culture while raising a family, in addition to being students. We have same sex parent families, graduate students raising their children alone, divorced family units, adopted / foster children and in-laws among our students. Each MIT family is unique.

Recklet Tassi: I would like the community at large to have the opportunity to get to know the spouses and partners of our graduate students. They are as interesting, diverse and accomplished as our graduate students. Most of them put on hold a career or job they love to help a family member pursue their dream at MIT, and they came to Boston not knowing what opportunities would be available to them. They are professionals, parents, neighbors and friends, and they contribute to the rich diversity of MIT.

Question: What resources should families of graduate students and their supporters be aware of?

Cardboard: The Office of Residential Graduate Education offers a variety of support, including food education and food subsidies. We were able to slowly start rolling out cooking classes, nature classes and supporting the Site 4 and Westgate communities in developing programs for children. If students are interested, they can check their mailing lists and newsletters for the latest updates.

Marshal: The Graduate Families Program of the Office of Higher Education publishes a bimonthly newsletter on graduate families. The newsletter features family programs and policy updates on and off campus, while creating community by sharing family life at MIT. The office also offers educational sessions on navigating the pK-12 school enrollment system and helps students navigate family policies and apply for family benefits, including accommodation for childbirth, parental leave, emergency child care and the grant for graduate students with children. Creating a culture of family inclusion is critical to student success, and it is founded on these family-centered policies and benefits.

Recklet Tassi: The MS&PC Professional Development Fund reimburses spouses or partners of current MIT students, post-docs, or visiting researchers up to $ 500 for activities related to their job search and career development, such as classes , conference registration fees and membership fees for a professional organization. These educational and networking opportunities support the professional growth and development of our members and allow them to further their careers while supporting the education and research of their spouse or partner at MIT.

In the fall of 2020, we awarded a total of $ 4,899 to 11 applicants. The winners had varied professional backgrounds, such as pastoral ministry, nursing, civil engineering, early childhood mental health, interior design, wildlife conservation, and film and media studies.

One of our laureates said: “Without the fund, I would not have access to these incredible opportunities, which are often so vital for academics to build and strengthen connections, as well as to improve the work we do in the world. Now that our child has been born, it is also a relief to know that I am doing all I can to present the strongest portfolio of work and services for the university job market – again, thanks to the fund.

Question: For the future, what developments do you see for the family community of graduate students?

Cardboard: Hopefully, as we continue with the reopening process, we can reintroduce in-person programs for children and enhanced enrichment programs for our families. A new leadership opportunity for spouses and female graduates will launch in a few weeks – an enhanced six-week leadership certificate that includes coaching sessions.

Marshal: My job as Graduate Families Program Administrator is brand new, less than a year old. It builds on earlier efforts, and there is still a lot of growth potential. I foresee an ever-changing repertoire of policy and program improvements to support the ability of families of graduate students to thrive in the MIT community. I look forward to forging collaborations with partners in each of our academic units, the MIT Medical Student Counseling and Mental Health Department, and the MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Recklet Tassi: MS&PC is celebrating its 50th anniversary this academic year, and we look forward to another 50 years of supporting students and their families. MIT is unique among universities for its consistent support for this program over the years. The Institute’s investment in this area is a testament to its dedication to the life of graduate students.


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