Graduate Student Council

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Pen Pals Program Details and Schedule

Guidelines for graduate student letters:

In this program, graduate students should only be able to contact the participating middle school students through the Pen pal program and vice versa. To ensure this, please follow the guidelines below when writing your letters and avoid giving out any identifying information in your letters.

  1. Please do not include your last name in the letters. Please do not sign your letters with your full name.
  2. Please do not include your email address in the letters.
  3. Please do not include your residential location in the letter or attempt to meet up in person with the middle school student.
  4. Please do not include any social media handles or identifiers in your letters. This includes the social media details of a friend or celebrity. Please do not encourage students to attempt to contact you through social media. Please do not promote any celebrities to the students in your letters.
  5. Please do not add your photos in letters.

Please make sure that you comply with the material you learned in the protection of minors course throughout your participation in this program. If you have any questions about the letter contents, we encourage you to reach out to us at

To update your Protection of Minors training, find your certificate, or review the Vanderbilt protection of minors policies please visit and log in using your VUnetID and password.

Letter drop off points:                                                         Hours:

Central Library                                                                        7:30 am – 9:00 pm  Weekdays

Eskind Biomedical Library                                                      7:30 am – 11:00 pm Weekdays

Graduate Student Council Office in Alumni Hall                     7:00 am – 9:00 pm  Weekdays

*Letters from middle school students can only be picked up from the Central Library.

 Schedule for 2019-2020:

Grad Student Letter Due Dates:



Current organizers of the program:  

Vanderbilt Graduate Student Council:

VPs of Community affairs (2019-2020) :

Haley Stubbs (PHD candidate, Department of Chemical and Physical Biology) and Shwetha Narasimhan (PHD candidate, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology)

MNPS middle schools:

Trent Carlson (ELA Teacher, Wright Middle School)

Program details:

Graduate students will exchange pen pal letters selected middle school students once a month. Letters may be handwritten (preferred) or printed. Letters must comply with the regulations as detailed below. Letters must be written in English unless otherwise specified.

The graduate student and the middle schooler give information about a set of common interests they might share (such as their favorite subjects, hobbies, sports, etc) and are matched accordingly. To participate in this program, graduate students are required to complete the Protection of Minors course (link) and send an electronic copy of your certificate (certificate must be awarded after July 2019) in with the application.

This program runs for 8 months. In the Spring you will have the chance to meet your middle school pen-pal in person at a GSC-organized meet up on campus.

Picture from the Pen-pal meet and greet – April 2019: