LaunchPAD guides doctoral students toward success

Members of the LaunchPAD team.After finishing their first year in School of Education (SOE) doctoral programs, students ask themselves, “Now what?” During this isolating time, VCU LaunchPAD reaches out.

LaunchPAD (Preparing Academics for Discourse) is a certified student organization as of 2016, led by outgoing president Amanda Hall and incoming president Brionna Nomi, with Jose Alcaine, the SOE research coordinator, as faculty advisor.

Their goal is to provide SOE doctoral students a with a peer-support network as well as various professional development workshops, seminars and events focused on writing for academic publication, reviewing research manuscripts, and an overall introduction to scholarly activities. They also focus some of the workshops on work life balance, health and wellness.

Throughout the year, LaunchPAD members have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and peers in an inclusive, constructive and supportive environment culminating in a showcase of their research and scholarship activities.

“LaunchPAD is different from other student organizations because we focus on the academic trajectory, what comes next, how to take this knowledge and skills that students gain and apply them,” said Hall.

Members of the LaunchPAD team.“There were conversations as a first year doc student that I didn't even know I was supposed to be having. Those are the topics for the workshops,” said Nomi.

Another goal of LaunchPAD is to engage all part time doctoral students who don’t have an opportunity to attend all many events during the working day.

One of LaunchPAD’s most important partnerships is with J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. The organization frequently holds workshops at their locations and works closely with their honors program. In addition, the group incorporates community service work such as cleaning sections of the James River or volunteering at the Central Virginia food bank.

One of their biggest events of the year for LaunchPAD is Dinner and Discourse, an event which highlights the student- faculty research that is produced in the school. Last year, they had over 30 submissions that represented all program tracks in SOE.

“We want to highlight the diversity of not only the topics covered in education but also the creative ways that students and faculty are disseminating that knowledge,” said Hall.

VCU LaunchPAD will continue to hold events and lectures throughout the 2017-2018 school year as they continue to grow into a large student organization dedicated to helping SOE doctoral students succeed.

If you are interesting in being apart of LaunchPAD, visit their website to learn more about their events this upcoming school year.