Spotlight on: UChicago initiatives for Student Veterans and the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities

Join the Student Veteran Council and Recognize UChicago Veterans for Memorial Day (5/22), click to learn more


The University of Chicago created the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities to provide a new resource for prospective and current students, faculty, and staff, including those who serve in the United States military, veterans, and members of military families. OMAC also serves to support students affiliated with foreign militaries. The Office for Military-Affiliated Communities strives to serve as a central home for the University’s military-affiliated work, helping to amplify a range of programs, support services, and partnerships currently in place across UChicago.

New and upcoming initiatives from the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities include:

–          The newly created Student Veteran Council hosted its first meeting in early April and will regularly convene a group of military-affiliated students from across the University to serve as liaisons and champion initiatives for OMAC. For more information contact Terrell Odom ( This group will transition into the UChicago Student Veterans of America Chapter, which will work across disciplines and serve all student veterans on campus. The SVA’s mission can be found here.

–          Memorial Day Programming will recognize US military veterans on May 22nd from 11:30-1:30 at International House (1414 E 59th Street), featuring former Congressional Representative and Bronze Star Medal recipient for meritorious service Patrick Murphy. For more information contact Terrell Odom (

Read this profile on Akya Gossitt, Master’s student in Clinical Social Work, discussing what these new initiatives mean to UChicago veterans:

Akya was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, but coming to UChicago was never a part of her original plan for graduate school. She applied after a friend encouraged her to do so, saying, “I just did it to shut my friend up.” When her admissions letter came, she did not believe that she had gotten in; once, the news sunk in, she realized that having a UChicago degree would “speak volumes to employers and to others in the Veteran community. This degree shows my and Veterans’ potential to accomplish and do the things we set out to do.”

Akya started her Master’s in Clinical Social Work in Fall of 2018, and she has hit the ground running, both academically and also in terms of outreach. She has developed a strong community at SSA, saying that her cohort is “the best thing about UChicago.” In talking to Akya, it is clear that her passion for helping others, especially other veterans, remains a thread in everything that she does. She credits what she has learned at SSA with helping her to articulate what she wants to do once she graduates: “I want to travel and teach workshops on trauma, especially for veterans and their families. Trauma can show up in a variety of ways and it looks very different, depending on culture and society. I want to create a foundation for social change and to impact policy, and I will advocate for teen moms, homeless vets, and against discrimination.” And, she has already started down this career path by partnering with Terrell Odom in the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities to create change for veterans on-campus.

After attending the Veterans Day Memorial, hosted at SSA last year, Akya began to find ways to connect with other veterans at UChicago and to find the resources available to her. In March of 2019, Akya and Terrell attended the Ivy League Veteran Council or Military-Affiliated Students at Stanford University. There they were able to discuss the ways that universities like UChicago can better attract and retain veterans as students, the barriers that veterans face when deciding to attend both college and graduate school, and how to make the top graduate programs across the country more inclusive to veterans. Terrell brought this information back to UChicago and is incorporating it as a part of the mission of the newly formed UChicago Student Veteran Council.

Akya is proud of her time as an E4 specialist in the military as well as of her many other accomplishments, like being a mother to two boys and participating in an NEH grant-funded outreach program that facilitated conversation between veterans and non-veterans around fictional accounts of war and trauma. She believes that “you make your own experience” and is committed to creating spaces for the veteran experience both at UChicago and beyond.

Apply by May 1st to participate in UChicagoGRAD’s 3 Minute Thesis Competition, develop an exciting and concise description of your research, and compete for prizes

Three Minute Thesis, also known as 3MT, is a public speaking competition originally developed by the University of Queensland

In a 3MT competition, you have three minutes to present your original thesis research with only one static slide. Sound difficult? It is! By taking part in a 3MT competition, you have a chance not only to practice your skills in public speaking. You also gain practical experience in how to condense the broad strokes of your research into a clear, concise, and exciting format. Watch videos of last year’s winners from the UChicagoGRAD competition!

The application deadline for the Three Minute Thesis Competition is May 1. To complete the application form, please click here. For questions please contact Michael O’Toole: 

Who is eligible?
Any student currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at the University of Chicago and writing a Master’s or PhD thesis is eligible to apply. Participants will compete either in the Master’s or PhD category. Students in a PhD or combined Master’s/PhD program must participate in the PhD category.


Each participant’s entry will be evaluated by a panel of judges. For a complete list of judging criteria please click here.

Overall Winner: $750

  • 1st Runner-up (PhD): $500
  • 1st Runner-up (Master’s): $500
  • 2nd Runner-up (PhD): $250
  • 2nd Runner-up (Master’s): $250
  • People’s Choice Award: $100  (new award for this year’s competition!)

Get involved in Graduate Council and Nominate your Peers for Graduate Student Leadership Recognition Awards!

Get Involved – Join Graduate Council!

Graduate Council is the representative governing body for the University of Chicago’s 8,000+ graduate students. In 2017-18, the Graduate Council Travel Fund and Finance Committee funded over 350 travel requests and 130 events respectively. In addition to providing financial support, Graduate Council also helped strengthen community by hosting 9 large-scale social events and 40 smaller community events.

In close collaboration with divisional Dean’s Councils, Graduate Council works to advance the graduate experience by programming campus-wide events and hosting platforms for advocacy and issues discussion. The council is comprised of 17 elected representatives from the 12 graduate divisions and a team of committee chairs that focus on particular action arms (social, community, diversity, funding, & marketing).

Graduate Council is always looking for motivated graduate students to get involved. Whether you want to help make decisions on funding applications, work on a specific issue, or run full-scale events, Graduate Council has a place for you. Join fellow graduate students in an effort to break down divisional barriers and create a university-wide graduate community.

Graduate Council is currently looking to fill the team for 2019-2020. Want to learn more? Please fill out this interest form here:

Graduate Council’s Graduate Student Leadership Recognition Awards

The Graduate Student Leadership Recognition Awards (G-SLRA) application is now live! The SLRAs are designed to recognize dedicated student leaders that have made significant contributions to improve graduate student life on campus. This year 25 awardees will be selected to each receive a $500 award. Applicants can be self-nominated or nominated by a friend, colleague, or faculty member. We’re excited to hear about all of the great work that our applicants do on campus, and can’t wait to reveal this year’s winners at our awards ceremony at the end of this quarter! You can find the application here.

Pathways to Teaching Careers Conference

Join UChicagoGRAD and the Chicago Center for Teaching for the Pathways to Teaching Careers half-day conference, hosted on May 17th, 9am-1pm in the Ida Noyes Library and Library Lounge 

Navigating from a graduate program or postdoc into a teaching position can be both an exciting professional and intellectual experience as well as a challenging, uncertain transition. After spending many years at one particular institution, how can you understand the teaching cultures at different institutions and how to demonstrate fit? And once in a new position, what do teaching and other professional responsibilities look like and how do they compare to your experience at UChicago?

This event will provide graduate students and postdocs from all fields of study with the opportunity to explore what it means to pursue a teaching career at a diverse group of institutions. In panels and small group lunch discussions, alumni from Chicago-area institutions and faculty from several liberal arts colleges will provide insight into the relevant skills and experiences that University of Chicago graduate students and postdocs might cultivate to prepare for successful teaching careers at a variety of institution types. They will also discuss how best to demonstrate and communicate these skills and experiences to hiring committees.


9:00 – 9:15 AM – Welcome, light breakfast served

9:15 – 10:30 AM – Differences in Teaching Cultures: Demonstrating Fit
Hear from alumni and faculty guests who have served on hiring committees about what hiring committees at teaching colleges are looking for in candidates. Gain advice on common pitfalls in the hiring process and how to effectively communicate your fit.

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM – Break

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM – Transitions to Teaching on the Tenure Track
How have early career alumni successfully transitioned into academic positions at teaching colleges? What makes work at these kinds of institutions interesting and valuable?

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Roundtable Lunch
Discipline-themed lunch tables will provide an informal setting for group discussion with alumni.


Confirmed Panelists:

James Marquardt: Associate Professor of Politics and Chair of International Relations Program at Lake Forest College

Jonah Rubin: Assistant Professor of Anthropology-Sociology at Knox College

Kevin Swier: Professor of Biology at Chicago State University