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GSC Honors Two Program Staff Members

Vanessa Ryan and Laura Sobik will receive the 2019 Graduate Student Council (GSC) Wilson-DeBlois and Bates-Clapp awards. Each year the GSC honors two staff members recognized by remarkable contributions to graduate students and the Graduate School. 

The 2019 Wilson DeBlois Award will honor Vanessa Ryan, Co-Deputy Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Dean of Student Development. The Wilson DeBlois award commemorates the first recipients of Doctor of Philosophy degrees at Brown, Grant Wilson and Austen DeBlois.

Ryan is an outstanding advocate for the professional and personal lives of graduate students, and she extends her support to graduate student parents. Her commitment to graduate students is evident in her leadership and contribution to initiatives including Research Matters, Graduate Community Fellows, Open Graduate Education, and Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellows, among others.

“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with graduate students. Some of the most rewarding work that I have been a part of--both with individual students and also across the institution--has been working with students to remove barriers and create new opportunities for graduate students,” says Ryan.

The Bates-Clapp Award acknowledges a staff member who has shown exceptional support for master’s students and the Graduate School. The award is named in honor of the first women to receive master’s degrees at Brown University, Louise Prosser Bates and Lucia Maria Clapp. This year, Dr. Laura Sobik, Assistant Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, is recognized for creating a supportive space for students who do not fit into the cisgender framework.

“I am so touched to receive this award. To the students with whom I have worked, I hope that you know how much you matter - beyond your academic productivity and accomplishments. You are equally valuable in your pain and in your healing, and the privilege to walk even a small part of your path with you is an honor beyond words,” says Sobik.

Sobik engages with the graduate students through the LGBTQ center, Project LETS, an organization spreading awareness for mental illness and disability, and through hosting a Gender Diversity Group on campus.