Survey methodology is often not standard in graduate health sciences curricula. Meanwhile, students from underrepresented groups in the health sciences are less likely to pursue biostatistics, statistics, or data science. We describe an extra-curricular project in which a university-wide survey was implemented to assess basic needs security, health, and academic performance among graduate students during the COVID-19 pandemic (the Fostering Food Security, Health, and Resilience in Graduate Education (FORGE) survey at Purdue University, USA). Graduate students were mentored in all aspects of survey conceptualization, design, implementation, analysis, and reporting, with results presented widely to the campus community and administration. Students gained experience in statistical methods, multidisciplinary collaboration, communication, leadership, and institutional structures and policies. Experiential learning in survey methodology can introduce health science students to statistics and motivate further study. We further demonstrate that this approach can be an effective tool to engage students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the statistical sciences.