Grads are warmly welcomed. The WLA is proud to be a “graduate-friendly” association, and the yearly meetings have a convivial, encouraging atmosphere where graduate students don’t have to worry about feeling out of place.
Grads have got the numbers. The WLA has a significant graduate student contingency. Nearly 20% of its members are graduate students, many of whom are on their way to becoming life-long members.
Grads make professional connections. Students can rub elbows with some of the finest scholars and writers in the field. They can make professional connections that help them during their careers.
Grads make friends. Students can create close personal connections that keep them coming back to WLA year after year. Events like the special graduate student luncheon allow students to get to know each other, and students say they’ve made life-long friends at the WLA.
Grads are in the mainstream. Students are fully integrated into panels and events, instead of relegated to graduate-only events that run separate from the main conference. Often, students have the experience of being placed on panels next to the best scholars in the field.
Grads are represented. In recent years, the WLA has gone to greater lengths to ensure that the graduate student population feels that their professional concerns are being met. A graduate student representative sits on the association’s Executive Council, the governing body that makes decisions related to the conference and the running of the association’s journal Western American Literature.
Grads get career advice. The WLA cares about your academic future. Each conference meeting features a roundtable panel session on issues of professional development.
Grads get recognized. Each year the association recognizes excellence in grad student writing by awarding the J. Golden Taylor Award for Best Essay Submitted to the WLA Conference by a Graduate Student.
Grads can grow. The WLA fosters intellectual growth, for graduate students and full professors alike, within a supportive environment. Grads get to be part of a lively exchange of ideas within an energetic, dynamic organization.
Grads can have fun. The WLA’s annual conference is held in a variety of locales, so that when participants aren’t attending sessions, they can enjoy everything from fine art museums to spectacular nature trails. Organizers plan a host of events, including field trips, readings from world-renowned writers, a banquet and dance, and an annual comic play written and performed WLA members themselves.