gradstudentaffairsTWFBGraduate students, medical students, law students, and postdoctoral fellows are uniquely situated constituents on college and university campuses. Whether they are recent undergraduates going straight through or full time staff returning for a post-baccalaureate credential, the diversity among and range of needs of graduate students is vast.

  • In what ways should colleges and universities support, engage, and develop their graduate students?
  • Which campus departments or divisions should primarily serve graduate students and address their unique needs?
  • How should student affairs specifically think purposefully about their work in supporting students beyond their undergraduate years?

On this episode of Student Affairs Live, host Heather Shea connects with scholars and educators to discuss the topic of graduate student leadership, wellness, and student support. Joining Heather are Paul Artale, Matt Helm, Nicole Johnson, Carmen McCallum, and Sean Robinson.


Episode Host

Heather Shea

Heather Shea

Heather Shea's career in student affairs spans nearly two decades and five different campuses, and involves experience in many different functional areas including residence life, multicultural affairs, women’s centers, student activities, leadership development, and commuter/nontraditional student services–she identifies as a student affairs generalist. Heather is currently serving as the director of Women*s Student Services in the Division of Student Affairs at Michigan State University having just completed her Ph.D. in MSU's HALE (Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education) Program. She completed her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University in 2000. Connect with Heather on Twitter at @heather_shea_


Paul Artale

Paul Artale is an Academic Program Manager for Graduate Student Engagement at the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan.  Paul’s work at Rackham focuses on engaging graduate students, helping them develop skills that strengthen their professional development, as well as work with several affinity groups on campus.  Paul is also working on his dissertation in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education Program (HALE) at Michigan State University where his research looks at work-life performance issues.  Paul is also a keynote speaker and leadership trainer who focuses on building resilience, goal setting and success.  For more information please visit


Matt Helm

Dr. Matt Helm is the Director of Graduate Student Life & Wellness at Michigan State University and reports jointly to the Associate Provost for Graduate Education and the Vice President of Student Affairs and Services.  He brings 20 years of experience working in university and nonprofit settings.  His current professional focus is on leadership effectiveness and the holistic health, wellness, career, and professional development of graduate students.   Dr. Helm’s 2012 article “Professional Socialization for the Ph.D.: An Exploration of Career and Professional Development Preparedness and Readiness for Ph.D. Candidates” was published in the Journal of Faculty Development.  Dr. Helm also brings a strong interest in the art and science of conscious relationships and the connection they have to leadership, organizational development, wellness, and spiritual intelligence.   He is passionate about helping individuals and organizations reach their highest potential.  Dr. Helm is a certified wellness director and holistic stress management instructor and has presented numerous times at local, regional, and national conferences.   In his multiple roles, Dr. Helm works with faculty and administrators to coordinate the implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive student life, leadership development, and wellness program for graduate, graduate professional students, and postdocs.


Nicole Johnson

Nicole J. Johnson is a doctoral candidate in the higher education program at Virginia Tech, a graduate assistant for Vice President & Dean for Graduate Education, Community Development Associate for the Black Cultural Center, and a higher education consultant specializing in organizational reimagination and inclusion & diversity. At Virginia Tech, Ms. Johnson is the co-instructor for Diversity in Global Society, a graduate level course that focuses on the examination of misconceptions about diversity and inclusion, benefits of diversity and inclusive organizations, legal requirements, international perspectives, and its applications to research and professional practice. She also serves as a consultant for the Office for Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives at the Graduate School to reimagine its mission, visions, goals, and outcomes. Ms. Johnson has worked in higher education for approximately 10 years. She has worked for two years at an educational non-profit that provided college scholarships. Nicole has also served as a university administrator for approximately for 8 years in a number of functional areas including law school and graduate school admissions, minority student affairs, student conduct, dean of students’ office, and inclusion & diversity before returning to pursue her doctoral degree. Ms. Johnson received her Bachelor of Art with honors in African American Studies from The University of Iowa and her Master’s of Science in College Student Personnel from Arkansas Tech University. She plans to complete her dissertation I’m gonna let you make it: Black women doctoral students and personal identity formation in 2017.


Carmen McCallum

Carmen McCallum is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University. Her research interests include access and retention within graduate education; graduate students mentoring experiences; and African American students and faculty. She is particularly interested in understanding how race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status influence students’ graduate school experiences. Her work has been published in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Readings on Equal Education and About Campus. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation to support her study of graduate education.


Sean Robinson

Sean Robinson is an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Morgan State University, in Baltimore, MD. Sean has over 25 years experience on university campuses in both academic affairs and student affairs. His teaching interests include: higher education administration, student affairs administration, organizational development & change management, leadership development, and qualitative research methodology. His current research areas include an exploration of the lived experiences of LGBTQ faculty and administrators within colleges and universities, and understanding the socialization and mentoring experiences of minority graduate students, particularly those attend HBCUs.