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Here at GradHacker, we tend to focus on the negative side of graduate school: problems that need solving, inconveniences that need addressing, support that needs giving. However, every couple of months we focus on the really cool things that graduate students are doing in the world. On how graduate students are using their expertise to change things for the better, make someone’s life easier, or just create something nifty.

Florianne Jimenez: Kate Litterer’s blog, The Tending Year, has been a much-needed source of support and reflection for me this year. In her blog, Kate invites us into her journey through self-development in weekly posts that chronicle what she’s reading and listening to (she loves podcasts!), how she’s translating these principles into action, and how this fits into the big picture of her life as grad student, scholar, worker, partner, and community member. I love how Kate’s blog speaks so eloquently and compassionately from a graduate student perspective (she digs into working multiple jobs, issues of work-life balance, and financial hardship), but at the same time, The Tending Year is also a great place for me to get some distance from the drudgery of grad school.

Patrick Bigsby: If, like me, you blew your March stipend on a bracket you once described as “a total lock!” then you may already be familiar with Jairus Lyles, graduate student in education and record-setting guard at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Lyles hit the buzzer-beater to upset Vermont in the America East conference tournament, propelling the Retrievers into the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed. There, Lyles was instrumental in helping his team defeat No.1-seeded Virginia in the first instance of a 16 beating a 1 in modern men’s college basketball, propelling thousands of office bracket pools into utter chaos. Student-athletes’ commitments demand superior time-management skills and discipline; doing it all as a graduate student is some next-level game. Congratulations on a great season, Jairus!

Heather VanMouwerik: Although Emily Graslie isn’t a graduate student, I propose we adopt her into our GradHacker community! As the founder of The Brain Scoop, she has helped facilitate communication between graduate students, PhD mentors, and the public—through interviews, lab tours, and archival deep dives at the Chicago Field Museum. I also believe her wonderful nerdiness and sense of awe will contribute to a whole new crop of science-inclined graduate students (especially women) who view the natural world with creativity and posses a craving for knowledge. Seriously though, bugs are gross.

What is on your radar? What have you seen graduate students doing that you think is super cool?

[Image from Flickr user Quach Trieu and is in the Public Domain.]

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