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Cajka recruited as Outstanding Scholar
November 16, 1998

Special Issue

Karen Cajka is proof that there can be far more to graduate work than studies alone.

The Ph.D. candidate in English also is a research assistant in the Center for Academic Programs and is co-director of the UConn's Writing Center, which tutors students - mostly those taking introductory English classes - who need help with writing assignments.

Cajka is in her third year with the Outstanding Scholars Program, a pre-doctoral fellowship offered by the Graduate School, that is guaranteed for three years. As part of the program, the student's department also provides a half-time graduate assistantship.

The Outstanding Scholars Program is one of the University's strategies to help recruit outstanding graduate students. Under the program, department heads or academic advisers nominate graduate school candidates for the fellowships, which total about 10 a year. A student's GRE scores, transcript, and recommendation from the department weigh heavily in the selection.

Cajka, who earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her master's from Northeastern University, entered the program in the 1996-97 academic year.

"It was a factor in my deciding to come to UConn over other schools to which I had been offered admission - the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Minnesota, and CUNY," Cajka says.

Her research here concentrates on the linguistic approach to British literature of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Cajka also is one of the English department's representatives in the Graduate Student Senate, where she has supported fellow English graduate student Cherie Ann Turpin's efforts to establish a standing GSS committee on diversity to help recruit minority graduate students to the University.

Cajka says the GSS is trying to analyze the factors that can lead to a lack of diversity in graduate programs. "We want to be sensitive to it as an issue," she says, "but we also want to be smart about trying to find out what makes it an issue rather than trying for a quick fix."

Ken Ros.