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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.
    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

  • Keturah Bethel

    Keturah Bethel

    Undergrad: Chemical Engineering and Applied Mathematics; University of the Virgin Islands, Columbia University
    Current Program: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
    Research interests: Cosmetics, hydrogels, biotechnology, consumer goods
    Why I'm a mentor: It is important that I return the guidance given to me.
    A life lesson I learned: If you do not let go of the past, you will keep reliving the past.
    What I do in my spare time: Read- I love fiction, angst-filled novels; binge lifetime movies (the 70s-90s preferred); play ROBLOX with my niece and nephews

  • 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.
    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 to not lose sight of who you are and stay true to yourself!
    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!

  • Bernadine Daichendt

    Bernadine Daichendt

    Undergrad: Materials Science and Engineering; Clemson University
    Current Program: Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering
    Research Interests: Polymers, fiber engineering, additive manufacturing, FDM printing, recycling
    Why I'm a mentor: I chose to become a mentor because I feel that my knowledge of the Clemson area, faculty, and programs that I've gained over the years can be a very helpful resource for incoming students. Having done my undergraduate degree and now working on my graduate one, I feel as though my experience can offer a different perspective for some people. There's a lot that I've learned both personally and professionally from my time at Clemson, and I want to share that knowledge with others and provide the best information I can to ensure that everyone's time here is a success.
    A life lesson I learned: A lesson I learned a little later than I should have is to give yourself some grace. I grew up in a very academically driven household, so naturally, I grew up putting very harsh expectations on myself in everything I did. It wasn't until the very beginning of my graduate studies, when I struggled a lot, granted mostly due to circumstances, that I realized not everything has to be perfect. It's really easy to expect greatness, especially in taking on graduate degrees. But with every expectation, you should always give yourself some kindness and know that sometimes your best is good enough, even if it's not perfect.
    What I do in my spare time: I spend my spare time playing video games, reading, going to waterfalls, and sometimes painting or trying out any new crafting project.

  • Sarah Donaher

    Sarah Donaher

    Undergrad: Environmental Engineering; Clemson University
    Current Program: Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences; Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering
    Research interests: Radioecology; ecotoxicology; health physics; engineering education
    Why I'm a mentor: I have greatly benefitted from the mentorship and collaboration of older Ph.D. students and post-docs. I would love to share what I've learned in my 5+ years as a graduate student, including how to apply for fellowships, the publication process, and general graduate school survival tips. I am excited to help new students get involved and acclimate!
    A life lesson I learned: Do the scary thing. It's always worth it.
    What I do in my spare time: I spend most of my free time around animals, including doing agility with my 4-year-old spaniel, Murphy. I also like to backpack, ski (water and snow), paddleboard, and check out local breweries. Recently, I have begun gardening and small-scale homesteading with my husband.

  • 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 to form 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: Play sports like soccer, cricket, and go-karting; go to a food joint or 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 or 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 (even sell my art on the weekends), cooking, gardening, videogames (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 choose 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: M.S. 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 moving into a new environment, you need someone to guide you through; always be ready to ask a lot of questions.
    What I do in my spare time: I watch soccer, American football, and basketball, and sometimes I played soccer and basketball.

  • 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!
    What I do in my spare time: I go on long hikes with my dog, go to the gym, read, or play video games!

  • 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. 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. I would love to help the incoming grad students to go through the process together. Go Tigers!
    What I do in my spare time: I play soccer, go for hikes, and explore places during my spare time.

  • 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, 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 love to cook and throw darts!

  • Harishankar Ravindran

    Harishankar Ravindran

    Undergrad: BE in Computer Science; Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College
    Current Program: M. S. in Computer Science
    Research Interests: Algorithms, Software Engineering, AI
    Why I chose to be a mentor: As an enthusiastic and experienced individual, I have decided to take on the role of a mentor. This opportunity allows me to connect with bright and inquisitive minds who are eager to learn and explore their passions. I relish being in an environment brimming with creative energy and am excited to contribute my expertise to help guide others. With a desire to streamline their progress in both industry and academic settings, I aim to share my insights and knowledge to assist them in avoiding any unnecessary trial and error. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to fostering growth and development in those I mentor.
    A life lesson I learned: During my undergraduate years, I was part of an exciting rock band that gave me an outlet to express myself and let my hair down. We were a tight-knit group, and our gigs were always filled with energy and enthusiasm. However, there was a defining moment that taught me a valuable lesson about discipline and success.
    We were invited to participate in a highly-anticipated battle of the bands event, and we were thrilled at the opportunity. We had ten days to write and perform our original song, and we eagerly dove into the task at hand. However, instead of sticking to a plan and executing it with discipline, we found ourselves meandering through the creative process, lacking focus and structure. We were unable to finish the song in time for the event, and as a result, we lost the competition.
    This experience hit me hard. I had always believed that music flowed naturally to me, but it became clear that true success only follows when discipline is employed. This lesson stayed with me, and I carried it into the later stages of my life. By prioritizing discipline and structure, I was able to avoid future failures and achieve success in both my personal and professional endeavors.

    What I do in my spare time: In my spare time, I enjoy making music, learning new algorithms through Leet Code, playing video games with friends, painting, and exploring new music. Socializing with like-minded individuals is also a favorite pastime of mine.

  • Charanjit Singh

    Charanjit Singh

    Undergrad: Mechanical Engineering; PEC University of Technology
    Current Program: M.S. in Computer Science
    Research Interests: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
    Why I chose to be a mentor: I chose to be a mentor because, in my journey from a mechanical engineer to computer science, I've gotten to learn a lot about the industry and choosing a career path wisely - which I want to share with others so they can make a more informed decision regarding their career.
    A life lesson I learned: A life lesson that I've learned, and hold really dear to my heart is that working hard has no substitute.
    What I do in my spare time: In my spare time, I like to explore new places and play table tennis.

  • 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.
    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!
    A life lesson I learned: You'll be scared to do things, but do them anyway.
    What I do in my spare time: ultimate frisbee, climbing, disc golf

Want to Receive Mentoring?

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

Review the bios of each mentor, and select your top 3 mentors. After submitting the form, you will receive an invitation to a Peer Mentee Welcome and a short orientation. During the welcome, we will introduce you to your mentor.

Mentee Sign Up

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

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