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Graduate College Advocate - Victor Baeza
By Marcia Guevara Valor
A graduate student survey in 2005 paved the way for Victor Baeza, at Oklahoma State University. The biggest complaint in the survey was that the Edmon Low Library focused on undergraduate students and didn’t have as many resources for those in graduate programs. OSU decided to create a position for a director of library graduate services. Baeza, who was working at the Texas Christian University library in Fort Worth at the time, applied and accepted the position at OSU in January 2006.
“Since no one had been doing this before, I was able to create this position myself, the way I wanted to do things,” Baeza said. “So over 11 years, it’s gone from doing a few things for graduate students to now trying to organize all the different workshops provided for graduate students.”
Baeza had been doing activities with the resources available, and then he began collaborating with the Writing Center and Career Services to provide more services for students. This led to working alongside the Graduate College to create more workshops for students to develop valuable skills like leadership and communications, which are not only valuable during their academic years but also in their careers. In partnership with the Graduate College, Baeza is responsible for the Individual Development Plans for doctoral students, and he’s involved with the Thesis and Dissertation Writing Workshops. Baeza has been a key proponent of the implementation of the Digital Badge Program, which is a micro-credential system for graduate students to develop skills outside the classroom to complement their education.
“It worked really well because you have your transcripts and employers know what classes you took but they don’t know what else you learned while at school,” Baeza said. “The skills they’re learning, they’ll be able to use through their entire life. We’re teaching them the skills that will help them no matter what they choose to do in the future. There’s not a lot of colleges or universities across the country doing it. I don't think there is anyone doing it to the level we are.”
The dean of the Graduate College, Sheryl Tucker, recognizes the importance of partnerships. The Graduate College depends on many people’s collaboration for carrying out successful events, which is why Baeza’s work is important to the College.
“Victor has been instrumental in bringing the Graduate College’s Digital Badge Program to fruition,” Tucker said. “He has provided a platform to house the program and been integral to the programing that provides our graduate students the career-critical skills for a lifetime of success.”
Baeza has worked with many graduate students during his time at OSU. At one of the workshops, he decided to stay after his presentation. He realized that students had more questions once they started working on their projects. From that day, he decided to stay after every presentation to help students with questions. He also started volunteering to be at more workshops and provide students with his expertise. Although he always enjoys assisting students, he remembers fondly his experience during the first Dissertation Writing Workshop.
“The moment that gave me the most satisfaction was when with the Graduate College and the Writing Center first offered the Dissertation Writing Workshop for Ph.D. students who were near the end of their program,” Baeza said. “It was interesting to find out from that first group how little they felt they knew about writing their dissertation. I guess we didn't realize just how confused a lot of students were. It is a weeklong workshop, and you could see kind of that click in their head about Wednesday. It all started to make sense and now they were writing much faster. They seemed much more confident. You could see that confidence, and they were so grateful. It was really nice.”
Baeza is happy because students are now starting to count on the library as their go-to place for resources, which is something he’s worked on. He not only helps students with academic and professional skills, he’s also working to provide more workshops and services to help graduate students address mental wellness.
“That’s what we’re trying to expand on, to where it’s not all about the work and grades but about your mental health, too,” Baeza said. “It’s a big team effort across campus to make things maybe not easier, but more relaxed for students. So you have more confidence. That kind of confidence we’re helping them develop will carry forward and makes things easier for them.”