Letter from the Co-Chairs and Co-Editors

Dear fellow graduate students, 


Welcome to this summer special issue of the AAALGrads Newsletter! We have planned and put together this issue of our newsletter to address the challenges and experiences of graduate students in face of the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Most, if not all, of us have been impacted in some form or another by the Coronavirus. Classes were moved online in a hurry. Travel and research agendas were disrupted. Funding was rescinded. Questions about visa status and time to degree emerged. In this time of uncertainty and ambiguity, the GSC Steering Committee is committed to supporting our fellow graduate students. Our goals with this special issue are to make the impact of Covid-19 visible and to create community among graduate students. As we stand in solidarity with you all in these difficult times, we hope that this issue will give you a voice, provide you with valuable resources, and connect you with one another and with the AAAL leadership. 


In our summer issue, you will find the following items: 

  • Profiles of the GSC Steering Committee members and newsletter co-editors: Earlier in 2020, the GSC leadership changed. We want to take this issue as an opportunity to introduce you to the new Steering Committee members and newsletter co-editors. Our profiles will inform you about our academic backgrounds and what we have been up to since the start of the pandemic. 

  • Conference proposal tips from the AAAL leadership: The deadline for abstract submissions for AAAL 2021 in Houston is approaching fast. Drs. Kendall King, Patsy Duff, and Charlene Polio have put together an informative and comprehensive guide on the abstract submission and evaluation process. 

  • Summary of our 2020 needs analysis survey: In June 2020, we launched a needs analysis survey  that was shared via our various platforms to find out more about how the graduate student community has been impacted by the pandemic. We were also hoping to learn how we can support you in these difficult times. In our write-up of the survey responses, you will learn more about the experiences of graduate students affected by Covid-19. 

  • Covid-19 resources for graduate students: Based on the needs analysis survey, we have compiled a list of resources that we hope will support you as you negotiate our new reality. In this section, you will also find an informative piece about changed funding situations by Georgia Ehlers, director of the Office of Fellowships and Community Engagement at the University of Arizona. 

  • Interviews about Covid-19 with applied linguists and administrators: We have asked four applied linguists and higher education administrators, Drs. Suzanne Panferov Reese (University of Arizona), Sara Cushing (Georgia State University), Chelsea Timlin (Brown University), and Christine Tardy (University of Arizona), to give us their thoughts and opinions about the impact Covid-19 has had on academia and higher education, and what challenges the pandemic has created. You will also find valuable tips and strategies in this section.

  • Quarantine stories from graduate students: Earlier this year, we asked graduate students to submit their Covid-19 stories through our social media channels. In this section of the newsletter, find out what some of your peers have been up to since the start of the pandemic. 

  • Q&A with the AAAL leadership: In the needs analysis survey, we elicited questions you had for the AAAL leadership. Read their responses in this section of the newsletter. You can also submit additional questions and provide further input through the surveys linked in this section. 

  • Call for the Fall 2020 issue of the AAALGrads Newsletter: In response to the death of George Floyd and the protests sweeping the nation thereafter, our Fall 2020 issue will be centered on the theme of “Race, Equality, Justice, and Allyship.” We cordially invite you to contribute to our fall issue to continue the dialogue about creating more equitable, diverse, and racially just spaces in higher education, language learning, and society at large. 

  • Survey about the new newsletter format: You may be aware that we used to publish the newsletter as a single PDF. The GSC Steering Committee decided to change the format of the newsletter, starting with this website-based summer issue. As we continue exploring options, we want to hear your opinion, too. Please take a moment to fill out our survey about this issue of the newsletter. Your feedback will help us to better serve you and meet your interests in the future.     


Finally, the co-chairs and co-editors want to thank our colleagues on the Steering Committee and all GSC sub-committee members. They have been working tirelessly this summer to make this special issue happen. We’re grateful for their contribution and commitment to the GSC and the graduate community as a whole. 




Stefan Vogel & Zhenjie Weng, co-editors

Haoshan Ren & Laxmi Prasad Ojha, co-chairs