Featured Graduate Student, May 2012
Originally from Athens, Greece, Eirini came to VT for her Bachelor's in architecture, and then entered the Master's in Urban Planning. She has been an active member of the international community, serving the Hellenic Student Association for the past 6 years as a PR officer, secretary and currently as the President. Eirini has also been involved in the Council of International Students Organization and represented the umbrella organization in the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
Do you think there is any value in social networking with other graduate students in non-related fields?
All graduate students are unique and are working on interesting topics during their studies. I am interested in learning more about different fields, methods, approaches, and experiences, and socializing with other interdisciplinary students is the best way to experience that.
Did your past experiences in life or education help prepare you for graduate school or did you have to develop different strategies to succeed?
In architecture school you have to be prepared to discuss your work at any given time with classmates, professors, professionals and people outside the field so you gain great presentation skills and learn how to receive criticism, understand it and apply it to your work. The five years of architecture studies greatly prepared me for the graduate school lifestyle.
If you were able to merge another discipline with yours, what would it be?
To an extent my studies focus on the people, their approaches, trends and outcomes. Sociology is probably the best field that if merged with mine would greatly support my research.
Which field are you most happy that you did not enter?
I always found engineering to be a fascinating field but I am happy I did not enter it, since I enjoy working in an interactive and social environment.
What is your favorite stress-reduction technique?
Traveling! Short or long trips always make me calm. Unfortunately I donít have the time to travel very often, however I do take advantage of every opportunity that comes along.
What accomplishment (academic or other) are you most proud of?
Academic accomplishments are always a sign of success, however I am most proud of my collaboration with a great architect in Greece, who gave me the opportunity at a very young age (only my third year in architecture school) to make important decisions concerning making designs of a house, and I am now able to come across my own design that was built and occupied.
What are your aspirations upon graduation?
The masterís program triggered my interest for more research and deeper understanding of my field. After I graduate from this program I would like to work for large scale projects around the world in a company where I will be able to get exposure in other fields so that I can gain experience and return for my PhD with a broader mindset but with a more focused topic of research.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?
Research is the most challenging part of graduate school. Coming to a Ďdead endí during research I think is what every graduate student and researcher fears the most. The great thing is that once you overcome such difficulties, you continue with even more energy than before.
How do you find balance between work, play, and your other non-academic responsibilities?
I love what I am doing and I consider myself fortunate for that. Work and play often become one thing and that creates a nice balance in my lifestyle. Being strict with myself in terms of time management is definitely a technique I need to perfect, but so far has proven to be successful.
If you hadn't been admitted to graduate school, what do you think you would be doing right now?
I would be probably working at an architectural firm overseas and I wouldn't have turned my interest towards urban planning. I am very happy that at the end I did take the Master's opportunity.
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