Edcel Cintrón and another student at the Communicational strategies in Oral presentations activity.

The UPRM is home to outreach programs and organizations that support the student body in the achievement of their professional and academic goals by helping them surpass their limitations, expand their horizons, to become capable and diligent professionals. In the Graduate level, our Campus has the Graduate Writing Facilitators a graduate program within the Graduate Research and Innovation Center (GRIC) led by Dr. Jocelyn A. Géliga Vargas, Communications Professor for the English Department and Graduate Writing Facilitator Coordinator.

How does the program work? The Facilitators are composed of Graduate students from diverse disciplines that are trained to instruct fellow graduate students in English communication (oral and written) as well as to support and mentor them on a professional level. Dr. Géliga and part of the writing facilitator team, Edcel Cintrón, and Angelia Caro, gave us the opportunity to share with the UPRM community their opinions and experiences about the program and the GRIC.

Their headquarters is the Graduate Research and Innovation Center, located in the second floor of the Library’s CRE facility, dedicated for graduate students to work and develop themselves. As described by our fellow graduate students Edcel and Angelia, the GRIC is “one of the little places where graduate students can meet, collaborate with fellow peers and get work done but also a place to rest and relax when confronting a heavy schedule.” A place where one can grow academically, have fellow graduates working together in their different activities that consist of a variety of workshops given by the library staff, webinars, peer and mentorship activities.

These resources help to prove beneficial and helpful to the students. Mr. Cintrón mentioned that is was very valuable because being the UPRM campus concentrating on engineering, the GRIC serves as space where everybody is together instead of separated by their fields. Being emerged in this multidisciplinary environment helped him grow as a professional as he was a receptor of diverse ideas and point of views and also offered his expertise.

Professor Géliga shared how the GRIC came to be what it is today in just a short amount of time of its development. Being at the time the English Writing Center Coordinator as well as the Associate Director of the Office of Graduate Studies, the library faculty approached her to help in conducting a five-year grant proposal to the Department of Education to build the GRIC. Once the proposal was accepted, she was invited to join and developed with them some of the projects as well being requested to collaborate on its future development. Professor Géliga moved on to become the Graduate Writing Facilitators Coordinator and helped create the program to help graduate students to their professional development.

Being the Coordinator for the Graduate Facilitators implies a lot of hard work. For example, she is in charge of preparing the job description and hiring the team of facilitators that will get the job done. She also trains the facilitators, asseses them, supervises their work, organizes team meetings, and write the reports of how the program is doing. Her goal is to ensure that they maintain their excellent job of 15 hours a week, increase the number of students that they help, get applicants to join the facilitators, and make sure their work doesn’t go unnoticed. Most importantly, she strives to increase the impact of the program to make sure it remains as a permanent service once the five-year grant is over.

When asked about what she thinks graduate students see when they enter the GRIC and partake of its services, she responded saying that everybody works as a service for everybody, seeing how far they can get and how much they can accomplish as they come together in this interdisciplinary environment. Different educational aspects and backgrounds are sharing their point of view on the GRIC’s events such as workshops, presentations, webinars, etc. all working together like a well oiled machine.

From the Facilitators point of view, they can respond to the services that the GRIC provides and see how it affects their fellow peers. Angelia collaborated by expressing the fact that during meetings with other graduate students they can observe how they grow and by establishing consecutive sessions with them they build a professional relationship that can experience growth in their professional development. As each semester passes, the GRIC’s reputation keeps growing, increasing the number of students that work for the programs and can participate in the facilities services. They can confidently trust in the work of the facilitators when they receive help with their English communication and verify their documentation for their thesis, thesis defenses, curriculum vitae, resumes, presentations, and many more.

Professor Géliga and the Facilitators all agree that the GRIC and the writing program itself are places where different majors can come together. Professor Géliga is an example as to what the GRIC can offer as a Communications Professor working for the English Department, that moved on to different programs such as the Bilingual Writing Center, and now being Coordinator of the Facilitators managing various disciplines in the program itself demonstrates how valuable it is to connect different aspects of English studies.

As the facilitators develop other graduate students, they also show growth between them as they grow in the GRIC environment and experience different interaction with the students. Their actions help raise the program, and the GRIC’s reputation as it receives positive feedback from the graduate student body will ultimately assist in maintaining the program when the five-year grant is over for future graduate students benefit from the facilities and the facilitators.