Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience : Office of Student Life

A moment of gratitude: End of semester letter - Autumn 2020

Posted: December 1, 2020

December 1, 2020

Dear Ohio State Graduate Students,

As we approach the end of the autumn 2020 semester, we would like to express our deepest gratitude for your tireless work, flexibility, and understanding during these times. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many facets of life for our community, and this semester has been very challenging. Nonetheless, we came together, and through our strong resilience, we’ve reached the conclusion of a semester like no other. 

In our autumn 2020 welcome email, we mentioned the rich tradition and excellence of The Ohio State University persists, and we committed to advocating for the advancement of the graduate student experience as we embarked on this new academic year—and we did just that. Throughout this semester, in collaboration with numerous university administrators, we were able to increase the annual stipend for graduate students, establish the new graduate/ professional student ombudsperson effective spring 2021, and made significant strides with student family housing efforts, among many other initiatives to advance graduate education and the graduate student experience.

Now, as you begin to wrap up your semester, we would like to share a short video with you. We hope that as you take time to relax and reflect over the next few weeks you will also take some time to express gratitude and spread some kindness to those who have positively influenced you this semester. The Office of Student Life Kindness Initiative is an easy way to send messages of gratitude and thanks to those internal and external to Ohio State.

We couldn’t be more proud of the advocacy, flexibility, commitment, and adaptability of each of you—and for that, we say THANK YOU! Additionally, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to CGS Advisor Kerry Hodak, Teresa Kempton-Dray from the Office of Student Life, President Kristina Johnson, Provost Bruce McPheron, Dr. Melissa Shivers from the Office of Student Life, Dean Alicia Bertone, Dr. Bern Melnyk from the Office of the Chief Wellness Officer, and the many faculty members, advisors, graduate program coordinators, and other members of the Buckeye community for their collaboration and contributions in helping us all make it through this semester. 

COVID-19 Related Reminders

  • Ohio State employees who are able to telework are strongly encouraged to do so until further notice. Please connect with your supervisor to establish a plan of action. Additional information can be found on the Office of Human Resources website.

  • The state of Ohio remains under a statewide curfew. Everyone should be in their home between 10:00pm and 5:00am until further notice. There are exemptions for individuals deemed essential workers and for other responsibilities and more information can be found on the Ohio Department of Health website.

  • In conjunction with Franklin County becoming level purple on the State Advisory System, Franklin County and the city of Columbus is under a Stay at Home Order until further notice. More information can be found on the Franklin County Public Health website.

  • Ohio State will begin the first two-weeks of the spring 2021 semester virtually.

35th Annual Hayes Research Forum
The 2021 Hayes Research Forum will take place on Friday, April 9th in a completely virtual format. Students may submit an abstract via the CGS website beginning December 1, 2020. Learn more at:

Graduate Student Engagement Fund
Recognizing the broad impacts of COVID-19, CGS has created a new grant program for university departments and support units to host socially distanced programming and events to support overall mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of graduate students. Departments can apply for funding at

2020-2021 CGS Grants
CGS – in partnership with the Office of Outreach and Engagement, Office of Student Life, Office of Research, and Ohio State University Extension (OSUE) – is pleased to announce the launch of the Engaged Scholar Grant. The Engaged Scholar Grant incentivizes graduate students to undertake community-engaged research and projects, in collaboration with a community partner, that address a specific need or problem within the community (in-state or out-of-state). Graduate students may apply for grants ranging from $500 to $1,500. Learn more at:

The Edward J. Ray Travel Award for Scholarship and Service (Ray Award) encourages and enables graduate students to participate in professional conferences, both in their respective fields and in the broader academic community, by reimbursing or partially reimbursing the expenses incurred by graduate students during travel to conferences and meetings to present original research. Students may apply for up to $1,000. Learn more at:

The Career Development Grant (CDG) encourages graduate students to prepare for placement into their chosen field by providing funding to defray costs associated with career and professional development experiences. Students may apply for up to $350 to attend virtual conferences, enroll in online training courses, renew organizational memberships, and prepare for licensure exams, among other things. Learn more at:

As always, we send our love and support to all of you and encourage you to take care of yourselves during these stressful times. Please remember, CGS continues to fiercely support and advocate for all Ohio State graduate students and know you can reach out to us at any time by email at

To stay up to date on CGS, please follow us on social media. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Stay safe and #MaskUpBuckeyes,

DaVonti’ D. Haynes, MSW
Vice President
PhD candidate, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

Sarah Light
PhD candidate, Neuroscience Graduate Program, College of Medicine

Nicholas Messenger
Chief of Staff
PhD student, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

If you ever experience suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately or contact the national suicidal prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Additionally, OSU REACH is a suicide prevention training program offered to students, faculty and staff to learn the risks, warning signs and how to intervene to prevent suicide. You can schedule a training at