The effort to make the graduate school admissions process more equitable and accessible to students is ever-so important, and a recent Perspective in Cell Press highlights insights and promising scalable strategies for this endeavor. Spearheaded by the volunteers of the Cientıfico Latino Graduate Student Mentorship Initiative (CL-GSMI), including current MB&B student Daisy Duan and former members Cathy Amaya and Rob Fernandez, the report discusses the unique challenges that students of historically minoritized backgrounds face when it comes to applying to graduate school. In addition, the article shares data garnered by CL-GSMI, which has assisted over 400 students in applying and matriculating into graduate school by “demystifying” the application process, providing one-on-one mentorship, and financial support (including application fee waivers).
The authors focused not only on the mentees and their unique obstacles and needs, but also the mentors, emphasizing the importance of supportive, sensitive mentors who are committed to diversity and inclusion. The Perspective ends by sharing suggestions for how institutions can make the graduate school admissions a more equitable process. For example, the authors emphasize that application assistance programs (AAPs) should provide various resources that can explain the details of the graduate school process, such as education webinars, mock interviews, and document repositories of example statements and CVs. They also emphasize the need to eliminate application fees, especially for international and undocumented applicants who are not often eligible for fee waivers. Finally, the authors conveyed the sense of community and belonging that CL-GSMI provided to a pool of diverse students and their mentors. It was clear CL-GSMI was able to foster a sense of solidarity and support among students during the process of graduate school applications.
By Shravani Balaji