Monday morning at 11am I went to the University for a sociology orientation. I was uncertain of what to expect from this first encounter with the faculty and my cohort. Almost immediately it was confirmed that my understanding that I was one of six selected was correct. I am the type that typically likes to be quiet in large groups and typically have a hard time opening up in small groups, so at first it was a little intimidating, but it turns out that my cohort is quite friendly and most of us have at least something in common.
Most of the orientation was rather uninteresting outside of the “getting to know the cohort” stuff, with the exception of a visit from our department chair. She started off her introduction to the group by requesting that we not call her by her doctoral title, but instead call her by her first name. This concept was not entirely unfamiliar to me, as some faculty prefer to be less formal. She went on to explain however, that her undergraduates are expected to call her by her doctoral title and that only her colleagues could call her by her first name. She prefers to think of graduate students as “junior scholars”. After spending the previous year in a graduate certificate program this transition did not occur to me, I did not consider that one of the key differences between undergraduate and graduate work was the level of engagement with the department and the institution. I am no longer merely a student, I am now a junior scholar, with all of the benefits and responsibilities of that status.