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Graduate Student Peer Mentors

Graduate Mentorship

The CECAS CU ASPIRE Graduate Peer Mentoring program is dedicated to building an inclusive community and providing support to our graduate students. Our program is designed to promote early success for first year graduate students. The goals of the program include inspiring and encouraging academic excellence, strategies for work/life balance and sharing recommendations and knowledge based on the mentor’s past experiences.

Our peer mentors will serve as a guide, sharing advice about research, time management, relationships with advisors and faculty, networking, and so much more.

Female student working on board
Two students on laptop in Humanities Hall.

Program Expectations

  • This program is offered through the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Graduate Studies.
  • Mentor and mentees will set their meeting schedules, but we expect you will try to meet at least once a month during the fall and spring semesters.
  • All mentors will be asked to attend our orientation at the end of the Spring semester where we will discuss mentoring skills, expectations, and available campus resources.
  • Want to meet your mentor or mentee in person? Attend the kickoff event in the fall!
  • We will offer several small social events to foster a connection between the mentor and mentee and a small allowance for our mentors to meet with mentees individually or all together.
  • We hope that each mentor/mentee will make a good-faith effort to communicate with each other.

Why be a peer mentor?

  • Increase your confidence and motivation
  • Develop leadership and organizational qualities
  • Serve as an ambassador for CECAS and promote campus resources
  • Give back to Clemson University graduate community

Why be a peer mentee?

  • Learn from the experience of others
  • Increase social and academic confidence
  • Improve communication and networking skills
  • Make new friends across disciplines

Meet the Mentors

Our CECAS peer mentors are upper-level graduate students who have completed at least one full year of graduate school in CECAS. We have mentors representing every department, a variety of backgrounds, and countries all over the world. Each mentor brings unique experiences that will be valuable to their mentees’ success.

  • Mugdha Basu Thakur

    Mugdha Basu Thakur

    Undergrad: Bachelor of Technology; SRM University, Chennai, India

    Current Program: Automotive Engineering, Ph.D.

    Research Interests: Vehicle dynamics, control, and estimation

    Why I'm a mentor: I want to develop meaningful connections with other students, and I believe that helping incoming graduate students settle into a new chapter in their lives would be an excellent opportunity. I have been in the Greenville-Clemson area since 2017 (Clemson: 2017-19, Greenville: 2019-present). I am quite familiar with both campuses as well as the surrounding areas.

    During my graduate education, I have gained much experience interacting with, guiding, and mentoring students with diverse educational backgrounds and expertise through various job opportunities and assistantship roles. Further, as an international student, I believe that I am well suited to be able to anticipate, empathize and help with additional challenges that an international student may encounter.

    Clemson Organizations: I started the student organization, the Society of Doctoral Students in Automotive Engineering (SDSAE), at Clemson University, and I currently serve as the president of this organization as well. We aim to build a supportive and inclusive community for doctoral students in the Automotive Engineering department. Throughout the semester, we organize many different social and professional events in our department that create opportunities to build relationships and camaraderie and foster professional growth.

    If you are an incoming doctoral student in Automotive Engineering, I would love to speak with you about our organization and help you connect with fellow Ph.D. students in the department!

    What I do in my spare time: Hiking with my dogs, cooking and trying food from new cuisines, and working on DIY home improvement projects

  • Haleh Barmaki Brotherton

    Haleh Barmaki Brotherton

    Undergrad: Industrial Design / Middle East Technical University (MS in Industrial Design + MS in Industrial Engineering)

    Current Program: Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education

    Research Interests: My research interests revolve around perfectionism and decision-making among engineering students. Based on various literature, negative perfectionism is highly correlated with stress and depression, while positive perfectionism can boost confidence, well-being and performance. I highly believe that providing such an outlook on mental health for first-year graduate students in engineering through a self-regulated lens plays a fundamental role in adjusting their work/life balance.

    Clemson Organizations: I am on the Graduate Student Advisory Board (GSAB), representing the Engineering and Science Education (ESED) department.

    What I do in my spare time: Going to Museums, checking bookstores, exploring local coffee shops, creating fashion illustrations

  • Julia Boone

    Julia Boone

    Undergrad: Computer Engineering; Clemson University

    Current Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D. in Computer Engineering

    Research Interests: Multi-agent systems, data-driven fire management, artificial intelligence, autonomous decision-making.

    Why I'm a mentor: I love being able to assist people in any way possible, especially during transitionary stages where they may need extra support, such as the transition from undergrad to graduate school. Clemson has been a special place to me throughout undergrad and graduate school, and being able to help others enjoy Clemson as much as I do is very meaningful to me.

    Clemson Organizations: Clemson IEEE Student Branch and IEEE Eta Kappa Nu.

    What I do in my spare time: I read, write, play video games, watch movies, go on small trips and adventures with friends, and bake

  • Kristin Chapman

    Kristin Chapman

    Undergrad: Ceramic Science and Engineering; Alfred University

    Current Program: Material Science and Engineering & Ph.D.

    Research interests: My research focuses on novel core fibers for quantum devices. The core of my fibers varies, but I work with materials that exhibit semiconducting and superconducting properties at a variety of different temperatures.

    Why I'm a mentor: I was lucky enough to have an inviting lab group that showed me the ways of Clemson outside of the lab. So, because I was lucky enough to have that, I want to be able to show others what I have learned, not only from my lab group but from the people they introduced me to.

    A life lesson I learned: A life lesson that I have learned is that your personality and character will carry you far, so it is important not to lose sight of who you are and stay true to yourself!

    Clemson Organizations: Optica e-board member, participated in many seasons of intermural sports

    What I do in my spare time: I love to stay busy! If it is nice outside, you can bet that I will be doing something outside. That could be attending a Clemson-related event, playing/watching sports, hanging out with friends on the lake, or hiking, you name it. If it's not so nice outside, you will probably find me in the kitchen baking or working on some form of a craft, love DIY!

    Fun Fact: I came from a town that is much smaller than Clemson, so if you think Clemson is small, there is always smaller. Just means you have to get creative when finding things to do!

  • Prakhar Gupta
    Prakhar Gupta

    Prakhar Gupta

    Undergrad: Manipal Univerity (Mechanical Engineering, B.Tech.)

    Current Program: Ph.D. in Automotive Engineering

    Research Interests: My research interests revolve around perfectionism and decision-making among engineering students. Based on various literature, negative perfectionism is highly correlated with stress and depression, while positive perfectionism can boost confidence, well-being and performance. I highly believe that providing such an outlook on mental health for first-year graduate students in engineering through a self-regulated lens plays a fundamental role in adjusting their work/life balance.

    Why I'm a mentor: I arrived in the US to join the graduate program here and have experienced how difficult it can be to figure things out, settle in and get productive. I look forward to connecting with new students. Happy to help new graduate students trying to explore opportunities and find their path.

    Clemson Organizations: Society for Doctoral Students in Automotive Engineering

    What I do in my spare time: I like biking, reading, learning to play the guitar, and exploring origami these days.

  • Devarsh Kachalia

    Devarsh Kachalia

    Undergrad: Mechanical Engineering; Mumbai University

    Current Program: Automotive Engineering, Master of Science

    Research interests: Alternate Sources of Energy, Manufacturing Processes, Materials and Composites

    Why I'm a mentor: After I received my letter of acceptance from Clemson, I was tense about moving to another country to pursue my degree. One senior from my program reached out to me and helped me with all the steps, from getting an apartment to getting my visa; he was with me in every step of the journey. All he ever asked from me was to do the same for someone else; this is my opportunity to do just that, which is why I chose to become a mentor.

    A life lesson I learned: Good things happen to good people. We just need to be focused on our deeds and be patient.

    What I do in my spare time: I'm a passionate individual with a diverse set of interests. As an automotive engineer, I find joy in crafting and perfecting the world of cars. Outside of work, you'll often find me indulging in my love for food, enjoying the thrill of soccer, and embracing the open road through long drives. Whether it's the adrenaline rush of go-karting, the strategic play of cricket, or the camaraderie of spending time with friends, I appreciate the richness life has to offer.

    When I'm not fine-tuning engines, I delve into the virtual realm through gaming, where both my PS5 and PC serve as portals to exciting adventures.

  • Josh Kelley
    Josh Kelley

    Josh Kelley

    Undergrad: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Minor in Physics, Clemson University

    Current Program: Ph.D. in Bioengineering

    Research Interests: I currently do research in a biomechanics lab on IVD degeneration. I am particularly interested in how smoking affects disc degeneration.

    Clemson Organizations: Research troubleshooting club - member, Clemson bioengineering organization - MUSC liaison

    A life lesson I learned: Good things happen to good people. We just need to be focused on our deeds and be patient.

    What I do in my spare time: When not working I enjoy finding new things to do in Charleston whether that be finding a new restaurant or just exploring the downtown area.

    Hobbies:Read any kind of book, run, play volleyball and spikeball, go to the beach

  • Ella Kokinda

    Ella Kokinda

    Undergrad: Computer Science; Clemson University

    Current Program: Computer Science Ph.D.

    Research interests: Human factors in software engineering, live streaming software development, software communities

    Why I'm a mentor: I chose to be a mentor because graduate school can be difficult, and having support is one of the best ways to get through something that is challenging. No one should have to navigate the graduate school processes alone, and I want to provide support to ensure getting through the first hurdles of graduate school. Additionally, I think mentoring is an important opportunity to network, practice leadership skills, and form research relationships that graduate students need outside of their own labs; having someone who may not be familiar with a particular area of research can be a useful tool when at a roadblock or to gather ideas from.

    A life lesson I learned: One of the biggest life lessons I have learned (and continue to learn) is advocating for yourself - whether that be in the context of academia or within your personal life. Advocating for yourself means knowing when you need to take a break, when you need to make a change to ensure your own happiness when to ask hard questions, and when you need to ask for help. It has taken a lot of practice to understand that trying to do everything on my own was not healthy or conducive to my own personal aspirations; knowing when to ask for that lifeline, when to step away or when to charge forward has helped me.

    What I do in my spare time: I love crafting - I do a lot of fiber arts with rug tufting and needle felting (I have my first solo show in January 2025 at a local Charleston Gallery), cooking, gardening, video games (mostly PC), and autocross!

  • Sahand Liasi

    Sahand Liasi

    Undergrad: Electrical Engineering; K. N. Toosi University of Technology

    Current Program: Electrical Engineering

    Research interests: Renewable energy

    Why I'm a mentor: There are several reasons for me. As a mentor, I find great satisfaction in helping others succeed and achieve their goals. I chose to become a mentor as a way to give back to the people who helped me during the last couple of years, especially Rob Seay. Mentoring can be a learning experience for me because I gain new perspectives and insights from the mentees. Mentoring can provide an opportunity to build meaningful connections with others and to create a sense of community and support.

    A life lesson I learned: If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

    What I do in my spare time: Playing soccer, reading books, and contributing to Wikipedia!

  • Oriyomi Opetub

    Oriyomi Opetub

    Undergrad: B.S in Mechanical Engineering; Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria

    Current Program: Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering

    Research Interests: High Entropy Alloys, High Entropy Oxides, Green Energy and Hydrogen Generation

    Why I'm a mentor: I chose to be a mentor because I want to help incoming students settle well into Clemson University by giving them good advice and guidance that will be useful to them. As an international student, the transition is very challenging - from getting accommodation to attending classes and adjusting to the time difference.

    Being an international student, I can use my experience on how I navigated through all these obstacles. If I had a mentor when I came in the spring of 2023, it would have been another story.

    A life lesson I learned: I have learned that when moving into a new environment, you need someone to guide you through; always be ready to ask a lot of questions.</p >

    What I do in my spare time: I like to watch soccer games, meet new people, and listen to good music.

  • Adam Puchalski

    Adam Puchalski

    Undergrad: Biomedical Engineering; Marquette University

    Current Program: Materials Science and Engineering, Ph.D.

    Research interests: Alginate cross-linked fibers

    Why I'm a mentor: To be able to share my experiences with people who may be very nervous and not sure what to expect!

    Clemson Organizations: I do some recreational sports, as well as belong to Clemson Foraging.

    What I do in my spare time: love to play sports, cook, go on hikes with my dog Valley, and play video games!

    Fun Fact: I was raised in the Midwest, I am 100% Polish, and want to travel to every US national park by the time I am 30!

  • Rahul Rajeev

    Rahul Rajeev

    Undergrad: B Tech in Materials Science and Engineering; IIT Gandhinagar, India

    Current Program: Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering

    Research Interests: Fabrication and characterization of Lithium-ion conducting Solid State battery electrolyte materials

    Why I chose to be a mentor: I have had a hard time going through the visa process, the initial college process, and adjusting to grad School. One person who really helped me go through this was my peer mentor.

    My transition to life at Clemson was made smoother by the peer mentor program, an experience that has inspired me to assist more international students.

    After being a part of Clemson over the years, I have helped multiple students to get through the initial hurdle. It is natural to need clarification on basic things in the initial days. From navigating the visa process to adapting to life in Clemson, I am eager to offer my support and guidance. I would love to help the incoming grad students to go through the process together. Go Tigers!

    What I do in my spare time: Outside of academia, I enjoy hiking, traveling, and playing soccer. I am a fun and easy-going person.

  • Tim Ransom

    Tim Ransom

    Undergrad: Appalachian State University

    Current Program: Engineering and Science Education

    Research Interests: Computer Science education, what it means to be a scientist

    Why I chose to be a mentor: I moved to Clemson without knowing anybody, and having a point of contact can bring a real peace of mind that graduate students need.

    A life lesson I learned: Get it in writing.

    What I do in my spare time: I forage mushrooms and listen to metal music.

    Fun Fact: I have a cat named after Ada Lovelace!

  • Taylor Seawell

    Taylor Seawell

    Undergrad: B.S. in Bioengineering, Clemson University

    Current Program: Ph.D. in Bioengineering

    Research Interests: Member of Dr. Bruce Gao’s Biophotonics lab

    Clemson Organizations: Aside from my involvement in the lab, I love all things Clemson! I enjoy going to all Clemson sporting events and finding new ways to get involved on campus. I am a member of the Clemson Bioengineering Organization and Research Troubleshoot Club.

    What I do in my spare time: In my free time, I enjoy going on walks, going to the gym, reading or hanging out with friends.

  • Duleepa Subasinghe

    Duleepa Subasinghe

    Undergrad: B.S. in Physics; University of Kelaniya Sri Lanka

    Current Program: Industrial Engineering, Ph.D. in Human Factors

    Research Interests: My research interests lie at the intersection of rehabilitation biomechanics and sports biomechanics. I am fascinated by how the human body responds to injury and how it can be rehabilitated to achieve optimal function. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the biomechanical principles and strategies involved in rehabilitation and the design of assistive technologies to support recovery. In addition, I am passionate about sports biomechanics and how it can be used to optimize athletic performance, prevent injuries, and develop innovative training techniques. I am particularly interested in the application of biomechanics to enhance the performance of athletes with disabilities. My ultimate goal is to use my research to improve the quality of life of individuals with physical impairments and contribute to advancing sports science.

    Why I chose to be a mentor: I have chosen to become a mentor because I have a strong desire to help others achieve their goals and reach their full potential. Throughout my personal and professional journey, I have been fortunate enough to have had mentors who guided and supported me. Their guidance and support have been invaluable to me, and I want to pay it forward by providing the same kind of guidance and support to others. I believe that becoming a mentor is not only a way of giving back but it is also an opportunity for personal growth and learning. I am excited to share my knowledge, skills, and experience with my mentees and to learn from them in the process. Ultimately, I want to positively impact someone's life and help them achieve success and fulfillment.

    A life lesson I learned: One valuable life lesson I have learned is that being kind and compassionate towards others can profoundly impact my well-being and happiness. Through my experiences of being kind to others, I have found that I am able to create positive memories and moments that have lasting impacts on their lives. In turn, this has made me feel good about myself, boosted my self-esteem, and increased my sense of connection and purpose. I have also learned that acts of kindness can release feel-good hormones such as oxytocin, which can reduce stress and promote overall well-being. By practicing kindness and compassion towards others, I have come to understand the power of positive energy and the impact it can have on the world around me.

    Clemson Organizations: Treasurer of HFES (Human Factors and Ergonomics Society) student chapter, President of Sri Lankan Student Association.

    What I do in my spare time: In my spare time, I enjoy a variety of activities that keep me engaged and entertained. I am a huge fan of online multiplayer games, and I often spend hours immersed in virtual worlds, competing with other players and honing my skills. When I'm not gaming, I love to relax by watching movies and listening to music. I have a wide range of tastes, so I'm always on the lookout for new movies and songs to explore. Additionally, I am passionate about anime and often watch episodes to unwind after a long day.

  • Missoury Wolff

    Missoury Wolff

    Undergrad: Olin College of Engineering, degree in Engineering with a concentration in Chemical Engineering

    Current Program: Chemical Engineering Ph.D.

    Research Interests: polymers, separations, sustainability, membranes

    Why I chose to be a mentor: I enjoy meeting new people, and being a mentee helped me to meet people when I knew almost no one else in the community!

    Clemson Organizations: Women in Chemical Engineering, Commission on Women, Clemson Disc Golf Team

    A life lesson I learned: You'll be scared to do things, but do them anyway.

    What I do in my spare time: reading, running, disc golf

    Fun Fact: I have two cats and a dog. I'm currently ranked #7 for Women's College Disc Golf.

  • Anvitha Yerneni

    Anvitha Yerneni

    Undergrad: Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, India

    Current Program: M.S. in Computer Science

    A life lesson I learned: As a happy-go-lucky individual, I navigate life with a smile, yet I hold a valuable lesson close to my heart: never blindly trust those around you. This principle has shaped my approach to relationships and trust.

    What I do in my spare time: I'm an avid enthusiast of diverse and dynamic activities, passionately engaging in throwball for its teamwork and energy and seeking thrills in go-karting's exhilarating races. My creative outlet flourishes in sketching scenic views and capturing nature's tranquility. Unwinding with music's melodies and immersing myself in cinema's captivating stories are my cherished moments of relaxation, and would love to travel around the globe.

    Fun Fact: Originally from Hyderabad, India, I pride myself on being left-handed, a trait I consider unique.

Want to Receive Mentoring?

To become a mentee, you must be a first-year CECAS graduate student and submit a CECAS Mentee Form.

Please review each mentor's bios and select a date for our Zoom Meet & Greet with the mentors. After submitting the form, you will receive an invitation to a Zoom session the day before your selected event. During the Zoom session, you will meet with mentors and get to know one another before you arrive on campus. We will have a welcome session to meet in person when you arrive!

Mentee Sign Up

Please contact Tonyia Stewart, Director for Graduate Recruitment & Inclusion, with any questions.

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