The Graduate School has launched another new series called "Meet Your Student Leaders." This series will provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows an opportunity to get to know the students who run the various graduate student organizations. Today's featured student leader is Laurence Black Hardgrove, vice president of the Graduate Student Government.

""Q: What is your name, age and program of study?

A: "Laurence Black Hardgrove, 26, and I’m a doctoral candidate in Graduate Biomedical Sciences- Biochemistry, Stem Cell and Structural Biology Theme."

Q: What is your role within the organization?

A: "Vice President."

Q: What responsibilities does that role entail?

A: "As Vice President, my main duty is to oversee the committees to make sure they are running smoothly. This role also entails that I chair the Orientation Committee, which helps the graduate school organize the New Graduate Student Orientation that occurs every fall semester. Most importantly, my job as Vice President is to help our organization are work effectively and efficiently as a team."

Q: How much time do you dedicate to the organization?

A: "An easier question is how much time do I not dedicate to the GSG! Throughout the day, I am constantly sending out GSG-related emails and working on my goals for the week."

Q: How are you benefitting from this leadership position? How will it help you achieve your future career goals? What are you learning from this role?

A: "I am benefitting from this role by refining my leadership and public speaking skills. As Vice President, I am responsible for taking lead on the goals of the GSG. This has certainly helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities as a graduate student, both in the laboratory and out. One of my roles in the GSG is also to lead the Senate meetings every month. This has helped my presentation skills immensely—I’m simply not afraid of speaking in front of large crowds anymore. To me, the most important skill I have gained is the ability to form meaningful professional relationships. This position requires constant interaction with others, which allowed me to develop interpersonal relationship skills very quickly."

Q: Why should graduate students get involved in student organizations?

A: "Free food, of course! Just kidding, though it is a perk. Student organizations are a great resource for students. We benefit from being involved because we are able to strengthen our professional skills and, even better, we get to make friends with people we might not have met otherwise. We, as GSG, are the liaison between the graduate students and UAB. We are the voice of our students, which is even more powerful than it may seem. We have the power to take the concerns of our graduate students and bring it to the attention of people who can fix it. This is something that a lot of our students don’t realize—we encourage all students to take advantage of this ability. Don’t stay silent—if you want something to change or be implemented, tell us! Together, we can do it!"

Q: Why should graduate students get involved in leadership positions within those student organizations?

A: "Getting involved as a leader is extremely beneficial to perfecting professional, leadership and social skills. It broadens your horizons and establishes connections with others who could potentially help you reach your goals in the future. The connections and friends you make as well as the skills and expertise you gain cannot be gained in any other way than becoming involved as a leader."

Q: How do you balance being a graduate student with the responsibilities that come from this leadership position?

A: "Two words: Time management. I have a planner that I live by. Keeping myself organized is the key to success."

Q: What else do you do?

A: "Outside of my duties as a graduate student, I am a mentor to a high school work study student and I regularly mentor undergraduate students both in the lab and academically. I sat on the admissions committee for my program for the last two years and recently passed the torch, allowing me to take on more responsibilities in the GSG. I recently got married and bought a house, where I live with my husband and two dogs. I also have a horse here in Birmingham that I enjoy spending time with. I have a passion for astrophysics and love reading books on cosmology (the study of the universe; not to be confused with cosmetology, ha!). Additionally, I enjoy working out and exploring Birmingham with my friends."