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Jonathon Young is an Old Dominion University master's student in education, but his part-time job draws more on his background in marketing. As an intern in the ODU Office of Graduate Studies, he has been given the job of organizing the university's first Graduate Student Association.

During the summer, Young researched how graduate organizations are structured and operate at other universities. For the fall semester, he has taken on the task of doing research on the ODU campus to find out what type of association the graduate students want. "We'll be doing surveys, interviews and also some focus groups to determine the direction we will take," he said.

Young is the frontman of a project that is being overseen by Philip Langlais, vice provost for graduate studies and research; Brenda Lewis, assistant vice president for graduate studies; and Worth Pickering, director of university assessment.

"The guidance and support of these administrators and the positive feedback from my fellow graduate students is really keeping my project moving forward," Young said. "We are striving to form the organization that provides the voice and venue for graduate students within our community."

He envisions an organization that will bring together graduate students for social activities as well as professional development workshops.

Young's goal is to have an association in place by spring 2007, and have it custom-designed for ODU. He said he has learned from his research that an association at one university cannot simply be copied at another institution.

ODU's 6,500 graduate students are involved in numerous programs and are from all over the world. Young points out that the university has never had one umbrella organization to unite this student population, and that its formation should bolster the administration's current push to strengthen graduate studies at ODU.

Young studied business at ODU as an undergraduate, and served one year as student body president. But he transferred to Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in marketing. Before returning to ODU to enter the master's program in higher education, he worked for three years in marketing for a private company in Philadelphia.

This article was posted on: August 31, 2006

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