Graduate Student Lucas Chen Wins Campus Life Award

Graduate Student Lucas Chen Wins Campus Life Award

Lucas Xiao Chen

Serving international students won SESP graduate student Lucas Xiao Chen the Campus Life Award for fall 2014. It is also his career goal after graduating from the Master of Science in Higher Education and Policy Program.

Chen was one of five students recognized for significantly contributing to the improvement of the quality of student life at Northwestern University. Each quarter the Office of Student Engagement recognizes students who have improved the Northwestern community through program development, bridging cultural differences or engaging students in a more inclusive campus community.

Chen is being honored for his work with Graduate Sidekicks, a program where graduate students serve as peer leaders for new international students during the university-wide Graduate International Student Orientation. Chen worked to expand training for these peer leaders, while also helping to create the Sidekicks Blog. After orientation he also assisted the International Office with an assessment that will be key to making improvements.

Chen says, “During my MSHE program I acquired research skills and knowledge of higher education institutions that have proven tremendously helpful. They enhanced my analytic and reflective thinking, which is useful in a variety of fields. These experiences made me want to go extra miles and make a difference. In fact, the MSHE program has been a constant support for the Graduate Sidekick program.” Chen credits two other MSHE students, Lisa Blaskowski and Andrea Farnan, for doing “wonderful things for the Sidekick program,” including creating the welcome video and the online blog.

In his career, Chen aims to serve international students in a higher education institution in the U.S. With increasing numbers of international students enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities, “I am motivated to serve these students and make a more welcoming, secure, enriching and engaging environment for them,” Chen says.

Chen wanted to expand the Graduate Sidekicks program for three reasons. “First, I have had the passion of making my community a more positive and welcoming place for its people. During my research on international graduate students of Northwestern, I realized that they desired more interaction with other students, but their constrained time, language issue and insufficient cultural experiences did not really allow many opportunities for achieving that. Therefore, I assumed Graduate Sidekicks could be an excellent way to get people connected and know they are not alone.”

Also, Chen was inspired by one of the first people he came to know at the University, a Sidekick named Dan Bradley, who gave him a highly positive first impression of Northwestern University. “Dan's dedication has been a living inspiration for me all the time, and I wanted to carry forward this practice for more students,” Chen says.

Finally, Chen was “fascinated by the idea of team power,” he says. “Individual talents adding up together can make a team that fear few things. Our Graduate Sidekick Team had 23 people from very diverse academic and cultural backgrounds. We were able to build bonds with students of different countries and programs. I owe much credit to my outstanding teammates, who contributed their strengths and time to have made all the great things happen.”

Members of the Northwestern community may nominate a student for a Campus Life Award through the Office of Student Engagement website

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 7/19/17