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Advocate of the Year ’20-’21: Interview with Sarah Hokanson

Dr. Sarah Hokanson is the Assistant Provost for PDPA at BU and has been supporting students and postdocs through various initiatives, one of her nominations is included below:
Sarah is a fantastic advocate for graduate students at BU and strives to make a significant difference when implementing new programs/workshops/etc. We are so lucky to have her as our advocate in the Provost’s office! She has also gone above and beyond to host moderated discussions on Back2BU issues and help facilitate important discussions between students and faculty.

 

 Can you tell us about your work at PDPA?
 

One thing I like about my job is that I get to focus on critical problems and dig into them as deeply as possible to shape graduate and postdoc training at BU. For example, our team is leading two large scale professional development programs such as the Postdoc Academy and PhD Learning Pathways. My job is to oversee projects at the broad level which means a lot of juggling and multi-tasking across all relevant issues. It’s been really fulfilling to help people and the human factor of my job is definitely a motivating component for me.

Who are some of your mentors and advocates?
 

I’ve been really lucky to have encountered great mentors and advocates during my time at BU. Gloria Waters is a great advocate for postdocs and PhDs; she also gave me a lot of freedom when I was building PDPA from scratch. Daniel Kleinman, who I think is a previous award recipient (2018-19), encourages me to think about how our work can make an impact inside and outside of BU. It’s hard for students to see [their efforts], but I wouldn’t be able to do the work I’m doing without them. Following in their footsteps, it’s important for me to make sure my team feels valued and is recognized for their efforts.

One advice for other women in STEM?
Check in with yourself—ask questions like Am I okay? Where are the resources or help I need? Where do I want my career to go? I think prioritizing these questions in your training and centering your own wellness and fulfillment in what you’re doing is really important. For me, fulfillment looks like joy, which I feel in knowing I am helping others, but fulfillment looks different and means different things to everyone. Figure out what it looks like for you, and make a change if you don’t wake up feeling motivated!

Climate Survey 2020

This year has highlighted many deep-rooted areas of inequality and challenged us to grow as an institution and organization. To understand how GWISE and its allies can better serve its members and the BU community, we asked for feedback and data in the form of a climate survey. This survey gathered data on student experiences regarding identity and inclusion at BU from over ninety respondents, and will inform the initiatives and events GWISE pursues this academic year and in the future. Thank you to the participants for their valuable responses and comments.
The compiled report from the climate survey can be viewed here, along with brief summaries of student comments and input. All comments are summarized such that anonymity is preserved. 

Fall 2020 Reopening Resources & FAQs

As you may know, GWISE is working with other student organizations to request clarification on many of the vague and unclear aspects of the Fall 2020 Back2BU guidelines, as well as to push back against what we feel are unreasonable expectations by the university, that will especially adversely affect the most vulnerable within our graduate student population. Due to the decentralized nature of information pertaining to BU’s policies, we have compiled the following Resource & FAQ page, which provides answers GWISE has compiled to questions from our community.

Anti-Racism Resources

As an organization whose core mission statement promotes diversity, it is our responsibility to denounce injustice wherever we encounter it. GWISE stands with the Black Lives Matter movement and pledges to do better to support our fellow students and community members of color by using our platform and our voice within the BU administration to push for institutionalized change. In particular, we will continue our work with fellow student organizations such as UGSO, oSTEM, SAGE, and GSO to implement anti-racist programming and policies at BU and in our Boston community. To do a small part to help move the needle of justice, GWISE has donated $1000 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, and another total $1000 to the Equal Justice Initiative, Transgender District (BIPOC LGBTQ+ work), and the International Rescue Committee (COVID-19 related work). We have compiled the following Anti-Racism Resources to encourage you to take part in educating yourself on becoming anti-racist and supporting your Black colleagues in STEM.

Resources during Social Distancing

We hope you and your families are all staying healthy and safe during this crisis. On behalf of the community, we have compiled a list of resources on how you can help yourself and others during this time. If you have any suggestions or additional resources to add to this repository, please contact us. We will be updating our website regularly! Be sure to also check out this amazing compilation of resources created by sociologist Dr. Alondra Nelson, #CoronavirusSyllabus.

To do your part to protect our community, please stay home as much as possible and check in on each other virtually. GWISE is here for you, feel free to reach out to us for any support or if you’d like to share any ideas, events, or resources with the broader community.