In October 2021, The Graduate Student Affairs Circle (Grad Circle) held its annual Grad Fest celebration specifically for Harvard graduate student and their families. Grad Circle aims to reinforce Harvard’s commitment to our graduate students by increasing institutional support, showcasing campus resources, and providing a wealth of activities focused on networking and community-building each fall. With the COVID-19 back to campus protocols in mind, Grad Circle created a month-long festival of in-person and virtual events and giveaways focused on connection, wellbeing, and creating a sense of belonging for graduate students and their families across Harvard.
This year’s Grad Fest was focusing on redefining the graduate student experience. Activities centered on dedicating time and space to reflecting and redefining individual and community needs in our new world. Events included creating a Grad (Re)Focused Meditation Space with the Center for Wellness and Health Promotion, having two plant giveaways, offering outdoor cardio fitness activities with TrillFit, having a virtual Family Yoga & Wellness experience, hosting a Harvard vs. MIT Trivia Night with the Harvard Graduate Council, and more.
Social and family-focused programs are critical to graduate students feeling a sense of connection within the Harvard community, and this year is no different. 1,008 graduate students and family members participated in the GradFest programming — the largest number of attendees since the inaugural event in 2018. Grad Fest ended with a virtual keynote from Sherri Charleston, chief diversity and inclusion officer. Charleston leads the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. In her talk (available here), she focused on her own journey through graduate school and insights on how to redefine your own time at Harvard as a grad student.
In addition to the Harvard Coop, Grad Circle partnered with offices across campus including Common Spaces, the Countway Library and Community Garden, Counseling and Mental Health Services, The Center for Wellness and Health Promotion, and the Graduate Commons team to create the month of “redefining”-themed activities.
Grad Fest received financial contributions and generous support from the Office of President and Provost, The Harvard Graduate Council, The Harvard Extension School, The Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Harvard Business School, The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, The Office for Sustainability, and the Harvard Graduate Commons Program.
Grad Fest will return in April 2022 (for our Harvard graduate students and their families) in celebration of Graduate Student Appreciation Week to continue facilitating One Harvard programming focused on belonging. Detailed information will be available at www.harvardgradcircle.com in Spring 2022.