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Spring, Summer, and Fall 2019 Applications are Open!

Posted by: Haley Schanne | September 17, 2018 | No Comment |

The Fall 2018 semester has just begun, but the University of Charleston, S.C. is already looking forward to welcoming our Spring, Summer, and Fall 2019 graduate students!

The application period began on August 1, 2018 for all 24 degree and 10 certificate programs offered here at UCSC. Each degree and certificate program has their own admissions requirements, so it’s important to ensure you are prepared to apply. These are just a few tips to keep in mind when applying for a graduate program. Applying to graduate school is big step in your academic or professional career, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult!

  • Check the admissions requirements for the program in which you are interested. The best way to ensure you meet the requirements of your chosen program are to either check the program’s website, or speak with the Program Director or Program Coordinator directly. Not only will this provide you with a face-to-face interaction with a professional in your chosen field, meeting with the Program Director helps put a face to the name on your application, and gets you both excited about the application process.
  • Set aside money for application fees, entrance exams, and transcripts. Most institutions, UCSC included, require an application fee when submitting your application. Planning ahead of time for expenses associated with applying for graduate school will help ensure a smoother, stress-free process. Institutions will also oftentimes charge for sending official transcripts to potential graduate schools, and the various entrance exams also have fees associated. These entrance exams will be covered more fully in the next section.
  • Determine which entrance exam you will need to take. For most graduate programs, the GRE is the required entrance examination. Split into three sections, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing, the GRE aims to reflect to admissions boards that you are prepared for the type of work and thinking process needed in a graduate environment. Free test prep is available for the GRE at ets.org/gre , which is where you also can register to take the exam.
    Additionally, some programs will accept another test score called the GMAT, namely business programs. The GMAT is split into four sections, Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning, and aims to measure one’s critical thinking and reasoning skills, which are very relevant to business programs. Test prep and registration can be found at www.mba.com.
  • Solicit letters of recommendation. These are important admissions materials, and serve as your opportunity to have the skills and experiences covered in your resume or cover letter validated and verified by working professionals. They are a chance to highlight your work ethic, experience, intelligence, and personality. Ensure you ask individuals who can positively, and honestly, speak to your readiness for graduate studies when soliciting for recommendations.
  • Request transcripts from all academic institutions you have attended. It’s important to have these transcripts be both official and sent directly from your previous academic institutions. Ensure you allow plenty of time before the application closing date to have the transcripts sent. It’s a good practice to include an unofficial copy of your transcripts with your application, just in case!
  • Write your statement of purpose or goals. This is a very important component of your application. At this stage, the admissions board will have seen your resume, your transcripts, and your letters of recommendation. The personal statement is your chance to speak directly to the admissions board. Discuss your motivations for choosing this graduate program, your aspirations during and after graduate school, what makes you a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. The personal statement is also a great place to address any potential weak points of your application, and how you’ve worked to overcome them.
  • Submitting your application. It’s a good practice to reach out to the admissions office to ensure all your application materials have been received once you hit that submit button. Following up with recommendation writers is also a great proactive step in ensuring all your application materials are received by the deadline.

Graduate school is an excellent opportunity to take courses directly related to your chosen field, network with advanced professionals, and build background and experience in your career path. Be sure to check with your program for application deadlines for the coming semesters. For more information on admission to UCSC, visit our website at http://gradschool.cofc.edu/admission-information/index.php 

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University of Charleston, S.C. student Sam Norton wants to expand the ways we farm.

Sam, a first year student in the Master of Science in Environmental Studies Program, has wasted no time getting his feet wet working on his thesis. Before the start of his first full-time semester, he was awarded a $25,000 grant for his research through the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Center for Research & Entrepreneurship (ACRE) Program. The ACRE program is a new initiative that seeks to increase market opportunities for South Carolina agribusinesses and farmers, with Sam being one of the first recipients.

With funding from ACRE, Sam plans to study how terrestrial saltwater farming could be brought to the Lowcountry through Salicornia bigelovii., otherwise known as ‘sea beans’ or ‘sea pickle’. The Salicornia plant is already the subject of immense study, with companies like Boeing and GE researching the seeds as a potential source of biofuels.

Salicornia bigelovii are quite rare in the salt marshes of the Lowcountry, but Sam saw them as a great candidate for terrestrial saltwater farming after first learning about the biofuel application during a class project during his time earning his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the College of Charleston, a class that just happened to be taught by the Environmental Studies Graduate Program Director, Dr. Annette Watson.

“In doing research for the class,” Sam explains. “I looked up Salicornia and realized they were successfully making biofuel with this plant that I used to eat as a kid at camp.”

This initial partnership between Sam and Dr. Watson helped foster Sam’s terrestrial saltwater farming idea, and introduced Sam to the graduate-level program. After spending the Spring 2018 semester as a non-degree seeking student, Sam applied for and was accepted into the program starting in the Summer of 2018.

Salicornia bigelovii. Photo Credit: calphotos.berkely.edu

Through his standing as a graduate student, Sam has been able to make connections with organizations like Lowcountry Local First, Charleston Fab Lab, Clemson Extension, East Cooper Land Trust and Local Works, and Charleston Aquatics to provide assistance or support for his project.

“Being a graduate student in the Environmental Studies program has opened up a lot of doors for me.” Sam says. “It gives you the credibility that’s backed up by a program with high esteem and standing.”

With the ACRE grant, Sam has already begun to build a saltwater greenhouse to grow the Salicornia plants, as well as develop a method for cultivation that can be applied throughout the Lowcountry and beyond in terms of agriculture as well as marsh restoration.

The ACRE grant has the potential be doubled throughout Sam’s thesis project, with the earliest opportunity for additional funding occurring at the end of September 2018. He hopes that his thesis work will contribute to the field of terrestrial saltwater farming around the globe.

To learn more about the ACRE program, visit https://agriculture.sc.gov/divisions/external-affairs-economic-development/acre/ . For more information on the Master of Science Environmental Studies at UCSC, visit http://mes.cofc.edu/

under: Academics, Award, Charleston, Environmental Studies, News

Graduate Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, ‘97

Posted by: Haley Schanne | August 27, 2018 | No Comment |

Alumna Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch is adding to our history books, one story at a time.

Dr. Jones-Branch, a Charleston native, graduated from the College of Charleston with her B.A. in History in 1994, as well as her M.A. in History in 1997, and obtained her Ph.D in American History from The Ohio State University in 2003. She has been a professor of history at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro ever since. She also serves as the adviser for the African American Studies Minor, as

Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, Professor of History Arkansas State University portraits taken by Dr. Gabriel B. Tait.

well as the Major and Minor adviser for the Department of History at ASU.

Most recently, Dr. Jones-Branch was awarded the 2017-18 University Educator of the Year Award by the Arkansas Council for the Social Studies and specializes in teaching about the histories of African-American women, civil rights, and rural history. Crossing the Line: Women’s Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014) was her first book and was awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Award from the Association of Black Women Historians in 2014. It was also a finalist for the George C. Rogers Jr. Award from the South Carolina Historical Association.

Her most recent publication, Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times, is her first co-edited piece with colleague Dr. Gary Edwards, also of ASU.

“This was a very long process,” Dr. Jones-Branch says. “And I learned a lot about what it takes to co-edit a volume and work with diverse scholars. I’m especially grateful to my colleague Dr. Gary Edwards for taking on the struggles of this project with me!”

Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times documents the experiences of Arkansas women from the state’s earliest frontier history through the late 1900s through fifteen biographical essays and was published in 2018 through the University of Georgia Press.

As an educator and researcher with ASU, Dr. Jones-Branch has been granted numerous awards for her work, including the 2004 Dean’s Research Award, a 2007 Faculty Research Award, and the 2009 Diversity Excellence Award. In 2014, Dr. Jones-Branch won the Arkansas State University Faculty Research award. She is also the first ever recipient of the James and Wanda Lee Vaughn Endowed Professor of History, an endowment that will be awarded annually to an outstanding faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and Communication.

Dr. Jones-Branch is currently completing her next book project titled “Better Living by Their Own Bootstraps”: Rural Black Women’s Activism in Arkansas, 1913-1965, a project that reflects her curiosity and fascination with the diverse experiences of rural black women extending beyond their work as agricultural laborers in the Jim Crow South.

“Many of them were well-known community leaders,” Dr. Jones-Branch explains. “Some were landowners in their own right. And at least one ran for the Arkansas State Senate as a Republican. These stories have not typically made it into Arkansas history books in a significant way, but they are important to helping us further flesh out and understand the complicated and nuanced stories about black women’s lives in the rural South.”

Through all her academic achievements and successes, Dr. Jones-Branch has carried some valuable lessons with her from her time in Charleston, including the rewards of hard work, and the importance of never giving up when hard times come.

“Learn your craft and learn it well,” She says. “But understand that smart people are always interested in growing, learning, and improving.”

We are incredibly proud and humbled to have Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch as one of our esteemed alumni here at the University of Charleston, SC!

To learn more about Dr. Jones-Branch’s research and publications, visit https://www.astate.edu or email her directly at crjones@astate.edu.

under: Alumni, Award, Charleston, Diversity, Graduate Programs, History, Networking

Graduate Student Highlight: Nicholas Mercer, MPA ’19

Posted by: Haley Schanne | August 6, 2018 | No Comment |

For the University of Charleston, SC student Nicholas Mercer, this summer was all about innovation and inclusion.

Nicholas, a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration Program, has been working with the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), a social justice non-profit that strives to achieve equality and acceptance for the LGBTQ community right here in the Lowcountry. This partnership was made possible through Nicholas’ Graduate Assistantship with the Community Assistance Program (CAP). Housed within the Public Administration program, CAP students partner with various non-profit organizations in the region to help with necessary projects.

With AFFA, Nicholas has been working on the launch of the LGBTQ Community Needs Assessment, a survey which is first of its kind ever to be undertaken in the tri-county area. The survey is a replication of similar studies conducted in Spartanburg, SC, and Birmingham, AL. Nicholas was present at the launch event for the AFFA survey on August 2, 2018 at the Joseph P. Riley Center for Livable Communities and was recently interviewed by the Charleston City Paper in reference to the project.

The survey, called “The Tri-County LGBTQ Community Survey”, has become a passion project for Nicholas.

“This project is something that effects my community right here,” Nicholas explains. “And it’s research that’s never been done before in this area. Being involved in this effort right where I live is incredible.”

The survey aims to gather information on the various facets of an LGBTQ person’s life in the Lowcountry, such as religion, family life, and professional ventures. AFFA hopes to create a wholistic view of the experiences of LGBTQ community members, which is particularly exciting for Nicholas once the results come in. When asked about the how the data that is collected will be used, Nicholas had this to say.

“With this first-time assessment, the sky’s the limit! The results will help AFFA assist with the needs of the underserved LGBTQ community right here in the tri-county area.”

Working with AFFA through the CAP program has been invaluable for Nicholas. His focus within the MPA program is non-profit management, and his Graduate Assistantship position allows him to gain real world experience every single day.

“The CAP program has brought to life what I’ve been learning in class,” Nicholas says. “And the opportunity to work with AFFA has been such a richly rewarding experience.”

Nicholas will continue working with AFFA through the Fall 2018 semester and hopes to continue to work on the behalf of the LGBTQ community within the nonprofit sector after his graduation in the Spring 2019.

To learn more about The Tri-County LGBT Community Survey, visit AFFA’s website at https://www.affa-sc.org/. To participate in the survey, visit https://the-lgbtq-survey.com/. For more on the Community Assistance Program with the Master of Public Administration Program, visit http://puba.cofc.edu/community-assistance-program/index.php.

under: Academics, Charleston, Diversity, News, Public Administration

The University of Charleston, SC provides current graduate students with research, presentation, and professional development grants, allowing students to travel both domestically and internationally to enhance their academic experience. In addition to various other campus funding opportunities, Zachary T. Stephens, recently utilized his Graduate School Professional Development Grant to travel to Dubai, U.A.E. for the 2018 Future Cities Show and Conference:

As a student, I am extremely interested in sustainability practices both in business and applied to cities or nations. This is the primary reason I came to The College of Charleston, as our Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) is Sustainability Literacy. Being in a university where sustainability is both taught, experienced, and practiced is a wonderful thing. Throughout my coursework in my first year as a graduate student, I was able to explore the academics and theory of sustainability. As a result of my academic experiences and financial support from The College of Charleston Graduate School, I am excited to have had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Future Cities Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The conference was held in April and furthered my knowledge base while also providing me with invaluable networking opportunities.

The Future Cities Show was a global conference related to city systems thinking of sustainability and resilience. The conference covered a wide range of topics including: digital infrastructure, Blockchain applications, mass transit, smart transportation, big data use, Internet of Things (IoT), security, sustainable development, futurology, resilience, citizen happiness, renewable energy, waste management, Net Zero (carbon), smart cities and buildings, and urban planning with design for sustainability. The breadth of this conference was supported, in part, by being in close proximity to the Dubai (U.A.E.) National Economic and Investment Forum, as well as a tech startup conference. I was exposed to many areas of cutting edge investment, design, solutions, research, and working professionals in the public and private sectors, and was able to utilize some of this knowledge in a classroom assignment back here at the College of Charleston to close the semester.

I am very thankful for the funding I have received from the graduate school, the Masters of Science in Environmental Studies Program, M.E.S.S.A., and G.S.A. for without this overwhelming support the experience would not have been possible. I am proud to say that I have enhanced my understanding of both city systems and their sustainability, as well as knowledge of how industry is also rising to the challenge to meet the U.N. Sustainability Goals. Both the civic and business sectors are in my personal areas of interests, and the speakers at this conference did not disappoint with their targeted messaging and commentary on local to global solutions. Many topics discussed within the conference I have been able to start working with the Sustainability Literacy Institute, the Office of Sustainability, and the college’s upper administration to implement these ideas in various forms of function and practice throughout this campus’s physical and digital presence.

In short, this conference and experience was proven to be the wealth of knowledge I expected and, as a result, I was able to bring back and apply my new knowledge and experience back home here at the College of Charleston. I genuinely hope other students, graduate and undergraduate, will take advantage of the numerous funding opportunities The College of Charleston grants its students. Many topics covered in lecture and personal learning experiences here at the college can be further enhanced by attending a conference for your discipline.

About the Author: Zachary is a current graduate student beginning his final year in the Masters of Environmental Studies Program. He currently serves as the President of The Graduate Student Association, Graduate Assistant for Outreach and Communications for the Sustainability Literacy Institute, and Graduate Hall Director for Rivers Residence Hall.



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Graduate Student Spotlight: Abigail Davis, MS Child Life

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | May 7, 2018 | No Comment |

For most graduate students at the University of Charleston, SC, summertime does not necessarily mean “time off” from their studies. Students who are not taking summer courses are often enrolled in internships, travelling for professional development, or continuing their ongoing research. Incoming second year MS Child Life student, Abigail Davis, has accepted a prestigious offer through Connect 123 in Cape Town, South Africa, where she will gain first-hand experience with other child life specialists at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Read more about the MS Child Life program and Abigail’s incredible opportunity in her recent blog post below!

I am a first year graduate student in the Master of Science in Child Life program at the University of Charleston, SC. My academic and clinical coursework and training are focused on becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist, a healthcare professional who will work with children and families with chronic or episodic healthcare needs.        

I have recently been accepted into the Connect 123 program in Cape Town, South Africa. While in Cape Town, I will be completing an international Child Life practicum at the Red Cross Children’s hospital. As an undergraduate student, I completed a medical mission trip to rural areas in Belize, and this led to my commitment to improving the psychosocial care for children across the world facing healthcare challenges. The Connect 123 program will provide a unique learning experience giving me the opportunity to be involved in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital healthcare team, and work with children and families from diverse cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I am excited for the opportunity to use the educational and applied skills learned through my program in a new country, experiencing intervention planning and delivery working within a non-western health care facility.

Through my graduate education in developmental, play, and stress and coping theories I believe I can work effectively to address the psychosocial effects of hospitalization in children and families, and benefit from the close mentorship of a senior child life specialist and former president of the child life national organization. Through my graduate training, I have witnessed, firsthand how play and expressive arts can address the fears of children facing hospitalization and medical procedures. I have observed our MUSC Child Life Specialists use play and preparation to address those fears, promote normal development, and improve the hospital experience for the child. I have developed the skills to assess children’s developmental levels and create developmentally appropriate interventions that I will utilize within the Connect 123 program.

I look forward to immersing myself in a new culture, and learning how experienced Child Life Specialists use their skills with children from other cultures. Although I have traveled extensively prior to graduate school, I am extremely interested in applying my graduate education and skills to the international health care setting, Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital. I believe this opportunity will give me a unique experience in working with a CCLS and children within a different country and broaden my scope of experiences and understanding of culturally competent child life intervention and advocacy. I am confident my graduate education and training and positive energy can contribute to the 123 connect program and health care team.


under: Uncategorized

This spring, the Graduate School reinstated the 60 Second Program Video Competition, granting students the opportunity to showcase the highlights of life within their graduate programs. The Graduate School collaborated with the Addlestone Library to utilize their expertise through online tutorials and an exploratory workshop, navigating the user-friendly iMovie software. Armed with only a smartphone or tablet, students were able to give the audience a firsthand look inside their respective classrooms, laboratories – or in some cases – even beaches.

Check out the full video of this year’s winner, MS Marine Biology student, Zachary Proux, online here!

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Eliza Bower says the changes she’s seen since her Freshman year at the College of Charleston – increased development, population, and traffic – are extensive. Charleston is not the only city facing these issues, and Eliza sees the college’s new Master’s program, Community Planning, Policy and Design (CPAD), as the perfect foundation to study potential solutions.

After graduating from the college’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning program in 2015, Eliza moved home to Baltimore for a gap year, or two, before grad school. She returned to the South in the fall of 2017 as one of the first graduate students accepted into the CPAD program, and says she was drawn to the program because of its small size, familiar location, and reputable professors. Interested in the “social issues” of developing cities, she wanted to study urban planning in a historic setting. “I’m interested in affordable, urban housing and how to make the urban fabric more cohesive and fluid in order to create a more diverse community.”

In between classes, research, and waiting tables, Eliza works as an intern at the Office of Sustainability, where she is researching different modes of transportation within the college community. Her Master’s thesis will examine the infrastructure for college commuters, and the development of systems that allow for safer biking and walking, and easier commutes to campus.

The college’s seventh annual Sustainability Week kicks off on Monday, April 9, and culminates with a street fair on Friday the 13. Eliza is working to build an “upcycled” outdoor living space on George street for the street fair in order to “give the street back to the students and community.” A variety of activities and events will take place throughout the week including a social justice coffee hour with a panel of experts, food trucks, and performances in the Cistern featuring music, poetry, and art. Eliza has been slowly collecting materials for her project including discarded packing pallets and industrial materials. “I’ve been dumpster diving,” she laughs.

Halfway through her first year in the CPAD program, Eliza has enjoyed getting feedback from experts in the field including Allen Davis, the Director of Civic Design for the city of Charleston. In February, Eliza traveled to Florida with her colleagues and CPAD Director, Dr. R. Grant Gilmore III, to the Seaside Prize conference, which honors leaders in contemporary urban development and education. Looking ahead, Eliza says she is looking forward to continuing her research and completing her Masters in the spring of 2019.

(Article provided by: Amy Mercer, Program Administrator/Intern Coordinator, HPCP and CPAD Programs)


under: Uncategorized

Spring 2018 Graduate Alumni Panel and Networking Reception

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | April 9, 2018 | No Comment |

A big round of thanks to the local alumni that participated in last Friday’s second Alumni Panel and Networking Reception!

  • Erin Aylor, MA Communication (’15)
  • Shelley Dearhart, MS Environmental Studies (’14)
  • Sarah Fichera, MPA (’17)
  • Betsey Geier, MA English (’14)
  • Jamie Mansbridge, MA History (’17)
  • Caitlyn Mayer, MS Environmental Studies (’17)
  • Michael Owens, MA English (’12)

Students were able to hear firsthand how to make the most of their graduate career and jump-start into the job market post-graduation. Email gradstud@cofc.edu if interested in serving as a panelist for future events!


under: Uncategorized

12th Annual Graduate Student Poster Session Winners

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | March 12, 2018 | No Comment |

Every year our graduate students participate in the Annual Graduate Student Poster Session, highlighting their impressive research activities, internship experiences, and creative portfolios from the academic year.

Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2018 competition!

First Place – Zachary Lane (MS Marine Biology): Feeding Behavior, Cirral Morphology, and Filtration Limits of the Sea Turtle Commensal, Chelonibia testudinaria

Second Place – Rachel Wiser (MS Environmental Studies): Willingness to Pay for Wedding Flowers

People’s Choice Award – Ellie Smith (MA Communication): “Living Out Loud is Not Easy:” A Reproductive Justice Approach to Health Disparities Across the Lifespan

under: Uncategorized

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