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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

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

  • Sachin Jacob Abraham

    Sachin Jacob Abraham

    Undergrad: Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University
    Current Program: Industrial Engineering
    Research Interests: Operations research and supply chain management
    Why I'm a mentor: I would like to be a mentor to be helpful to the students in need and acquire the skills required to be a leader.
    What I do in my spare time: I love sketching and reading crime-mystery novels.

  • Malek Alkayyali

    Malek Alkayyali

    Undergrad: The University of Jordan
    Current Program: Mechanical engineering / PhD
    Research Interests: Materials Science
    Why I'm a mentor: After serving on the mechanical engineering graduate student council, I decided to expand my leadership skills and apply for the mentor position. I want to meet new students and share my experience with them and hear their stories as well.
    What I do in my spare time: Hangout with friends

  • Abdelrahman Amin

    Abdelrahman Amin

    Undergrad: BS in Mechanical Engineering, American University in Cairo (AUC)
    Current Program: PhD in Mechanical Engineering
    Research Interests: Failure detection in wind turbine gearbox using machine learning and vibration-based techniques
    Why I'm a mentor: I like making new friendships and being exposed to different cultures and backgrounds. Also, I got a lot of help when I first arrived at Clemson from people, so I like to offer help and provide guidance to newcomers as a sort of giving back. I enjoy my university life at Clemson, and I would like all new students to feel the same here and to know all the facilities and activities they can enjoy around the campus.
    A life lesson I learned: He who does not like to climb mountains, will forever live among the hollows. I like to take on new challenges and achieve new goals and dreams. This is why I feel satisfied about my life and proud of myself.
    What I do in my spare time: A lot of things! I enjoy hiking, kayaking, biking and, recently, mountain biking. I play tennis, table tennis and soccer. I hang out with friends to watch a movie, play cards or chess. I also enjoy driving. In addition, I enjoy watching soccer, NBA and tennis matches. My favorites: Barcelona in soccer, the Lakers and Trail Blazers in NBA, and Federer and Djokovic in Tennis.

  • Jess Baron

    Jess Baron

    Undergrad: B.S. in Computer Science, Digital Arts concentration at UNC-Wilmington
    Current Program: Ph.D. in Computer Science, Visual Computing
    Research interests: Computer graphics; appearance capture and modeling of feathers
    Why I'm a mentor: I hope to help mentees find their passion through graduate school in Clemson. One aspect is in exploring research topics and connecting with advisors, and another aspect is in taking time to explore and appreciate the nature and cuisine in the Charleston and Clemson areas!
    A life lesson I learned: A life lesson I learned through graduate school is how to break away from perfectionism particularly through long-term research projects along with putting a healthy life-work balance as top priority.
    What I do in my spare time: Travel and partake in cultural exchanges; exercise with my Great Pyrenees; create digital and physical art; read both fiction (fantasy!) and non-fiction (birds!); roleplay through video games, stories, and Dungeons & Dragons; enjoy and analyze animated films (especially Pixar and Disney!).

  • Keturah Bethel

    Keturah Bethel

    Undergrad: University of the Virgin Islands, Columbia University
    Current Program: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
    Research interests: Polymers, cosmetics, biomaterials, sustainable materials, transport characterization
    Why I'm a mentor: I am returning the favor and helping others the way I was helped! Makes quite the difference!
    A life lesson I learned: You make more progress when you do not take yourself too seriously.
    What I do in my spare time: Read, watch lifetime movies, sing, and Google spoilers. I love spoilers.

  • Sarah Donaher

    Sarah Donaher

    Undergrad: Clemson University
    Current Program: Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences; Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering
    Research interests: Radioecology; environmental radioactivity; disturbance ecology; marine ecology; invertebrate ecology; marine science; community ecology; health physics; radiation science; environmental engineering; ecotoxicology; environmental pollution; sustainability; engineering education
    Why I'm a mentor: I am in my fifth year of graduate school (entering my third year of my Ph.D. here at Clemson) and 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 a professional capacity (how to apply for fellowships, publication process, general surviving graduate school tips). I have also now lived in Clemson for 7 years on and off (I got my undergraduate here) and I absolutely adore both the University and the area and would like 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: Backpacking, rock climbing, swimming in Lake Hartwell, dog agility with my English Springer Spaniel, play games or watch movies with my lab mates. Currently trying to learn to longboard and play piano.

  • Jaylan Fraser-Mines

    Jaylan Fraser-Mines

    Undergrad: Williams College
    Current Program: Materials Science and Engineering PhD
    Research interests: Polymers, Self-Healing, Sustainability, Textiles
    Why I'm a mentor: Ultimately, I think the sense of community we have in grad school is integral to success in grad school. There are hard days on the way to getting our degree, and in those moments I'm really grateful for the friends I've got in my circle, who help me decompress and think of the bigger picture. I chose to be a mentor to help first-year grad students adjust to this next academic chapter, connect them with a community of people who they can lean on for support, and help them find those who can help make this journey a little easier.
    A life lesson I learned: In stressful moments, I like to think about the story my future self will share. I often value an experience so much more in retrospect, either for the humor or lesson it provided. Stepping back from a hard circumstance to think of this bigger picture reminds me that even these low moments are important steps in our crazy journey!
    What I do in my spare time: Most of the time I enjoy getting outside for a run (Isaqueena is my favorite!), hiking, or playing an IM sports game. And on my lazier days, I enjoy watching Survivor or Veep. I am also a frequent attender of the Grad Student Government (GSG) activities, especially Pendleton Brewing trivia nights and any event with free food :)

  • Alec Gonzales

    Alec Gonzales

    Undergrad: Texas A&M University - Kingsville
    Current Program: Industrial Engineering
    Research interests: Augmented reality, exoskeletons, virtual environments, healthcare
    Why I'm a mentor: I was incredibly fortunate to have met fantastic people early on that really made me feel like I belonged at Clemson, so I would like to pay that forward and show incoming students how great of place Clemson can be.
    A life lesson I learned: There will always be more work you have to do (especially in grad school), so it's important to have fun and spend time with the people you care about.
    What I do in my spare time: Literally anything - I like to workout, play tennis, hike, watch horror movies, and I'm currently learning how to play guitar.

  • Adam Gootgeld

    Adam Gootgeld

    Undergrad: Clemson
    Current Program: Materials science and engineering
    Research interests: Nuclear
    Why I'm a mentor: I love clemson!
    A life lesson I learned: You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
    What I do in my spare time: Disc golf and volleyball.

  • Shubham Gupta

    Shubham Gupta

    Undergrad: Delhi Technological University, India
    Current Program: CU-ICAR, M.S. in Automotive Engineering
    Research interests: Powertrains, Autonomous Driving
    Why I'm a mentor: You can’t grab an opportunity you don’t know exists. We all make mistakes in grad school - sometimes choosing the wrong option and sometimes not aiming for a great one. I hope to use my grad school experience so far to better equip incoming grads at Clemson.
    A life lesson I learned: Don’t take yourself too seriously.
    What I do in my spare time: You’ll either find me near a car or at a restaurant.

  • Xiang Li

    Xiang Li

    Undergrad: Civil Aviation University of China
    Current Program: School of Computing, CS Ph.D.
    Research interests: Computer graphics about rendering, modeling, facial recognition, and construction
    Why I'm a mentor: I enjoy helping new tigers!
    What I do in my spare time: History, Chinese Calligraphy, Youtube,

  • Brenda Okereke

    Brenda Okereke

    Undergrad: Biomedical Engineering B.S from Rutgers University
    Current Program: Ph.D. in Bioengineering
    Research Interests: Breast cancer, intercellular communications and extracellular vesicles
    Why I chose to be a mentor: I chose to be a mentor because I know how big of an impact having mentors had on my first year.
    A life lesson I learned: Things can always work out better than you imagine.
    What I do in my spare time: A lot! And it depends on the day. I love to read, hang out with friends, go to Crossfit, Muay Thai and Jui Jitsu classes, film/edit videos, find new places to eat and more.

  • Abdul Peerzada

    Abdul Peerzada

    Undergrad: Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering from SRM University, India
    Current Program: Ph.D. in Civil Engineering
    Research Interests: Additive Manufacturing of Cementitious Materials, Cement Chemistry and Admixtures, Condition assessment, Repair, and Rehabilitation of Concrete Structures, Durability and Service-life Estimation of Cementitious System, Structural Response of Deteriorated Concrete Systems
    Why I chose to be a mentor: I chose to be a mentor to help graduate students deal with multiple personal, psychological, and professional issues which they face during their graduate studies. These issues may include the following but might not be limiting to them: balancing personal life and graduate program, transition into a new culture, issues with advisor and funding, inclusion into research group. In my opinion, a mentor provides an avenue for a student to express his/her feelings and issues without worrying about the consequences or retributions. Additionally, there are certain issues which students might face, and they need a resolution at a student level, however, faculty or staff might not be able to help in those circumstances I aspire to have an academic career, mentoring graduate students would help me develop personally as well as professionally. It would help me understand my future students and colleges better.
    A life lesson I learned: There are things in life you strive for, yet you might fail in achieving them and there are things in life that would come easy. Acceptance of reality becomes vital; show resilience in failure and contentment in success.
    What I do in my spare time: I like Hiking, Backcountry Camping, Cooking, and playing soccer (pre-COVID times).

  • 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!

  • Vishal Tyagi

    Vishal Tyagi

    Undergrad: SRM University, Chennai, India
    Current Program: Graduate Student of Automotive Engineering at Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR)
    Research Interests: Design & Manufacturing
    Why I chose to be a mentor: I remember what it feels like to be new in graduate school. I walked around with a "deer in the headlights" look. I got lost trying to find my way around CGEC for classes and even the bathroom. I had a boatload of questions but no idea where to get the answers, and since this was my first international experience, I was shy and felt a bit discombobulated. For the first few days, I didn’t even know who my mentor was, and by the time I figured that out, I had learned everything the hard way. All that is behind me now, but I don’t want anyone to experience that. Soon, new students will arrive, and they'll share the same struggles as I had. As a peer mentor, I will help ease their transition and make them feel welcome here.
    A life lesson I learned: An old Roman proverb that people quote – “Carpe diem,” – means “Seize the day.” More often than not, we fail to act due to a lack of confidence or courage. This hesitation keeps us from moving forward and puts us in a cage of wondering what might have been. Whenever you feel it’s time to act, take action. No matter the outcome, you will end up smarter than before.
    What I do in my spare time: In my spare time, I usually go to the gym, and I also like to read many books. Ever since I figured out that "Dollar Tree" has books for a dollar, I go there twice a month searching for new exciting books. I also have a solid love/dislike relationship with traveling. If we are riding motorbikes, I can not say no ever. What's better than riding a motorcycle, sometimes it Takes a Whole Tank of Fuel Before You Can Think Straight.

  • Rohith Venkatakrishnan

    Rohith Venkatakrishnan

    Undergrad: Anna University
    Current Program: School of Computing, Ph.D.- Human-Centered Computing
    Research Interests: Human-Centered Computing, Virtual Reality, Perception and Action in Virtual Reality, Cybersickness in Virtual Reality
    Why I chose to be a mentor: I would like to give back to the community by sharing my experiences and helping students that are embarking on a journey that I know a lot about.
    A life lesson I learned: Don't fixate and worry on things that aren't under your control.
    What I do in my spare time: Play soccer, tennis, badminton, go on hikes, cooking, TV, watch sports, socialize, read books etc.

  • Roshan Venkatakrishnan

    Roshan Venkatakrishnan

    Current Program: Human-centered computing
    Research Interests: XR environments, human-computer interaction, sports and rehabilitation, perception, and anything interdisciplinary with virtual, augmented and mixed reality.
    What I do in my spare time: sports, road trips, restaurant hopping, thrift store exploring

  • Brandon Williams

    Brandon Williams

    Undergrad: North Greenville University
    Current Program: Mechanical Engineering- Ph.D.
    Research Interests: Non-destructive evaluation and structural health monitoring of composite materials.
    Why I chose to be a mentor: To promote diversity and inclusion within my department.
    A life lesson I learned: Love yourself, love people, and be humble.
    What I do in my spare time: Motorsports

  • 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.

Note: Mentee signup is now closed for the '22-'23 academic year.

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.

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

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