2021 Election Candidates
2021 GPSC Election Candidates
Scroll down to read more about each candidate and their interest in serving with GPSC, relevant qualifications, and how they would like to contribute to the improvement of the graduate and professional student experience at the University of Arizona.
Executive Officer CandidatesClick or enter to reveal information below
Candidate for GPSC President
Shilpita Sen, College of Law
My beginning is a humble one - I knew the road would be long, but I carried hope in the face of darkness and uncertainty. I am currently pursuing my SJD in Indigenous Law & Policy.
My goal and conviction since my term began has been ‘to empower Graduate and Professional Students to fight for the University Experience they have been promised and deserve.’ I zealously worked on issues pertaining to DACA and ICE Rulings, Title IX, Tax Cut and Jobs Act, Affordability of Graduate Education, RISE Act, and HEERF.
I know from experience what it’s like to have your voice oppressed, especially as a woman of color. No one should go bankrupt to fund their education or take eons to pay-off their debts. No one should lose their sanity, tolerate abuse or discrimination to get an education. We Students cannot listen to those who say, “It’s not yet time”. “We know it’s time, our time, and we will make it so”. I have become acutely aware of the barriers and norms of spaces within institutions, but also the possibilities and bridges that could be built to address the inequities.
My professional experience, law school, and the United Nations, has equipped me well in terms of advocacy, proficiency, and deliberation. Having participated in the UN CCPCJ as a panelist over the last 5 years has strengthened my belief in effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. If elected to continue serving as your President, I would continue to relentlessly advocate for transparency, institutional and structural improvements for graduate and professional education. Key areas of my focus include (not exhaustive):
- Create Mutual – Aid Fund, raise money – to support students during COVID-19 pandemic
- Completion Grants
- Increase AFAT Funding – Need-Based for Graduate Students
- Need-Based Funding & Scholarships for DACA and International Students
- LBGTQIA+ Inclusivity and Multi–Cultural Awareness
- Increase Travel & Research Grants, Scholarships
- Provide Funding for resources, help pay for USMLE, NCLEX, NAPLEX, Bar Exam
- Additional Resources for Non-Traditional and Online Students
- Graduate Workers Rights and incidental Benefits
- Secure External Grants for Multi-disciplinary Research and Innovation
- Mandatory Funding for Doctoral Candidates (Ph.D. Excellence Program)
- Campus Safety
- Improve Student Health & Legal Services
- Support Student Organizations
- Social and Community Events
Candidate for GPSC Vice President
Joseph Agosttini, College of Law
Watch the video and read the statement below to hear more about who Joseph is and what is important to him! Feel free to comment on the video using VoiceThread's interactive comment function. For more information on how to use VoiceThread, click here.
¡Yo seré tu voz!
As the child of two immigrant parents who came to this country with nothing more than hope and a dream, I know firsthand what it is to struggle -- to struggle to put food on the table, to pay your bills, and to be taken seriously. Be that as it may, I have never allowed myself to be a victim of my circumstances. Rather, I have used them to fuel my ambition, drive, and work ethic. And, today I can call myself a “success” with confidence: I am a first-generation college student, an NSF scholar, and a proud queer person of color. But, most importantly, I am a person who unapologetically speaks up against injustice and moral indignation. This is my niche and what I’ve found meaning in. For this reason, I want to be a voice and an advocate for the thousands of graduate and professional students at the University of Arizona who feel silenced, wronged, unappreciated, and forgotten about. I have not forgotten about you because I am one of you.
As graduate and professional students— we are leaders, teachers, researchers, and invaluable members of the University of Arizona. We are the current and future leaders in education, research, industry, and community; yet, in recent years, we have been undervalued and disproportionately impacted by policies that have increased tuition and fees, eliminated access to resources, and have placed our overall well-being on the back burner.
Over the last three years, I have worked alongside my peers and administrators to directly confront several of these issues and propose reasonable solutions to them. As the past GPSC Secretary and Social & Marketing Committee Chair, I was part of a team that:
- Increased need-based aid for graduate students by $800,000 through AFAT
- Successfully advocated for the creation of a Family Study Room
- Improved the quality of Orientation and increased its attendance by 50%
- Diversified the types of monthly socials and increased their attendance by 25%
- Create an annual family social for graduate students with children
- Made socials more accessible
- Expanded GPSC’s outreach to UArizona Phoenix campuses
- Provided feedback on University-wide policies protecting graduate students
- Initiated conversations to get dependent coverage added to the Student Health Insurance Policy
- Passed a White Paper and Resolution on Mental Health that will be used for educational campaigns across campus.
Although each of these triumphs is a reason to celebrate, our work is not yet done. There is so much more we can do to improve equality, equity, and access at UArizona, especially for graduate and professional students. If afforded the opportunity to serve as GPSC Vice President, I will work with the current Executive Board, Council, and the greater graduate student population to:
- Escalate students’ concerns about the campus re-entry plan “up the latter”
- Lead efforts to continue promoting graduate-student mental health
- Amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC students
- Propose plans for redirecting funds in order to support minority students
- Hold monthly town hall meetings with administrators and senior leadership
- Work with our sister universities to get dependent coverage added to the Student Health Insurance Policy
- Add a summer round to GPSC’s grant programs
Students at the UA continue to face adversity and barriers that diminish their experience in graduate school. As issues rise, graduate and professional students need a voice to advocate for them. If given the chance, with your support, I can commit to being that voice.
Vote for Joseph Agosttini for Vice President, and please get involved in GPSC!
Officer CandidatesClick or enter to reveal information below
Candidates for GPSC Assembly Chairperson
Gabrielle Hodgin, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
I am a graduate student within the International Security Studies program currently employed as a Congressional Staff Assistant for Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick’s office. I have ample experience in community outreach, program management, and event planning. In this position, I work primarily in constituent services, and I assist individuals in the congressional district of Arizona (2) dealing with federal agencies. This can range from Social Security issues to Veteran Affairs to Immigration and Federal Prison issues. I am a very organized and detail-oriented worker. I work for five caseworkers, and my job is to be their entire support system. I manage all incoming office communication and ensure constituents are assigned to the correct caseworker. On average, I directly handle 10-12 constituent cases per day while actively responding to our office's typical 25 incoming voicemails. I handle all initial paperwork and I always ensure that my interactions are bright because people often seek out their Congressional representative as an act of last resort. I make it my goal to ensure their concerns are heard and they understand our team will do our very best for them.
In approaching my desire to become more active in student representation, I chose the position that I believe I could excel in. I believe my current skills and experience give me a driving edge to ensure all office functions run efficiently and that my fellow GPSC officers have the information and support they need to thrive in their roles. I am energetic, driven, and eager for a challenge. This year will bring many new challenges, and with unexpected limitations, I am seeking to promote prosperity during this time. Much of the world is still shut down, but the opportunity for remote internships and available education seminars are providing more opportunities than ever before. I want to ensure the University of Arizona Graduate students have these resources to succeed and I believe having a strong, well-rounded GPSC team is step one of ensuring that. I would have no greater pleasure than to be a part of that team, serving as the Assembly Chairwoman you can count on to promote success and achieve the 2021-2022 student body and professional council's ambitions and goals.
Respectfully, Gabrielle Hodgin
Isaac Stein, College of Law
I’m Isaac. I currently serve as the law school’s representative on GPSC. If you’ve seen a guy reading in direct sun near the Arizona Market when it’s 105 out, it was probably me. Feel free to say hi!
On to the serious stuff: I am running for Assembly Chair because the position would allow me to continue to lead GPSC on its current path of greater transparency and accountability, as well as to solicit greater involvement in the organization from members of the public.
To give you a concrete sense of what I’m about, here are a few of my projects from this past year:
- Repeatedly raised awareness of how and to what extent GPSC positions are compensated. I find that most grad students are not aware of GPSC, and those that are have no idea that positions are paid. I have led the organization to adopt a new strategy with respect to these issues. The public has a right to know, and I believe more students, especially low-income students who cannot accept unpaid work, will participate if they know they will be compensated for their time. Now, disclosures about compensation appear on the GPSC website (here) and have been consistently going out with elections-related e-mails.
- Transparency. At GPSC’s first meeting this month, I called a successful vote to post the full recordings of GPSC open session meetings on the GPSC website. GPSC has not posted the recordings for several years. I believe, unequivocally, that the public has a right to see their representatives in action and to hold them accountable.
As for how that experience and philosophy translates to this position: the bulk of the assembly chair’s job is to moderate general council meetings. As a result, the chairperson ought to cherish the values of fairness and free inquiry, while also having respect for procedure. I have those principles.
A vote for me is a vote for someone who believes that all thoughtful opinions should be heard, and that a public entity like GPSC has a duty to proactively seek input from the public. GPSC is funded by your money, and, therefore, should be accountable to you personally.
Thank you for your consideration.
-Isaac H. Stein
Candidates for GPSC Secretary
Atacan Atakan, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
I am a PhD candidate in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies. I have also completed two minors in History and Gender and Women Studies. My research interests include history of childhood in Ottoman Empire, Ottoman feminist movement, theories of sexuality and gender, body politics, and nationalism. As I head into my final year as a graduate student, I would like to be a part of the GPSC executive board and to serve its goals and initiatives with respect to the promotion and advocacy of graduate and professional students’ interests.
Both as an undergrad and grad student, I have had opportunities to work in various organizations and different positions. I was vice president of a student club named Genç Aydınlanma (Youth Enrichment) in my undergrad university back in Turkey between 2009 and 2010. On top of the required responsibilities of being VP, I also was in charge of organizing conferences and inviting prominent intellectuals as guest speakers. I also served as a chair of the Childhood and Youth Network under the Social Science History Association (SSHA) between 2015 and 2017, and as a board member in the Middle East and North African Graduate Student Organization between 2014 and 2016. Currently, I am a volunteer in the Association of Middle East Children and Youth Studies Peace, an academic body which was originally formed to support the peace negotiation in (AMECYS) and Academics for Kurdish-Turkish conflict.
My diverse experiences as a student, graduate assistant, and member of different organizations have given me an opportunity to become familiar with the various challenges and obstacles that graduate students face while attending University of Arizona or other universities. This has enabled me to not only be aware of the existing problems, but also to know the efforts, initiatives, and advocacies carried out by varied graduate and professional student communities and associations. If elected, I will use my knowledge and experience to efficiently assist the current Executive Board and Council. I will make every effort to equally represent the diverse graduate student community in board and council meetings. At the same time, I will remember the importance of equity while discussing the issues vis-à-vis the different groups within this community. I will follow the same principle regarding the representation of graduate and professional students in meetings, negotiations, and discussion with different organizations in and out of the university. As an international, queer grad student, I believe I will be the best representative to serve as secretary of the GPSC.
Representative CandidatesClick or enter to reveal information below
Candidates for College of Education Representatives
My name is Melina Islas and I am currently a third-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program. I am interested in serving as the GPSC representative for the College of Education. I believe I have formed good relationships with students and faculty I have worked within my college, through teamwork on class research projects, collaboration with other College of Education students on creating SEL initiatives for teachers in training, and assisting with research analysis to several students working on dissertation this year. I have experience in a leadership role as former Vice President of the Student Affiliates in School Psychology in the 2019-202 school year, where I helped lead monthly organization meetings, coordinated fundraising efforts, communicated the organizations concerns, needs, and activities with faculty advisors as needed, and organized philanthropy events. Additionally, I have held several simultaneous positions in research, externship, graduate assistantships, and outside work positions, all while attending school full time, so I understand the unique stresses and demands of graduate students. I am committed to promoting and advocating for positive experiences within our graduate college and am most interested in prioritizing students’ mental health and well-being during their time as a graduate student.
My name is Hongyi Wang. I am a third-year doctoral student studying School Psychology at the College of Education, University of Arizona. I am running for the GPSC College of Education Representative position in the 2021-2022 academic year. My passion has always been advocating and promoting social justice, racial and gender equity on the system level. I served as the Diversity and Equity Chair on the Student Affiliates in School Psychology (SASP) Board during my master's education. Currently, I serve as the Vice President on the SASP Board in my doctoral program. Being the GPSC College of Education Representative provides me the opportunity to fulfill my passion on a higher and broader platform. As a GPSC College of Education Representative, I would like to be the voice of all graduate and professional students in the College of Education. I would like to be the coordinator between the college and the university. I hope to broaden the collaboration and communication between the College of Education and other colleges and committees on campus.
Candidates for College of Engineering Representative
My name is Melrose Pan. I am a doctoral student at the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Mechanics. I am willing to devote my time serving on the GPSC.
I am interested in knowing more about the students from different backgrounds, understanding their needs, and doing something for them. Being a doctoral student and immersing myself in research makes me feel a little isolated, especially during the pandemic. That motivates me to do something for the graduate students by serving in the GPSC community. I have been inspired by all the activities held by GPSC including social events, career webinars, and question sessions since I first entered the school, so I am willing the join the team and hold more great events that are helpful to students. I want to make students feel easier to find a place to vent and ask for help on their studies, work, and life. Joining GPSC would be very meaningful for me, as an international student who has received so much help from it, to learn about different values in this community and give something back to it.
Candidates for College of Fine Arts Representative
My name is Sedona Heidinger, and as a rising doctoral candidate in the Art History department, I am honored to be considered to represent the College of Fine Arts. I wholeheartedly support the mission of the GPSC, and wish to add my voice to the chorus that advocates for the interests of the vast and diverse graduate student body.
As the Vice-President of the Symposium for the Art History Graduate Student Association, I organized Art Histories of Activism: Temporality and Ideology, our 31st annual (and very first virtual) symposium. As a member of the Student Caucus of United Campus Workers Arizona, I work in solidarity with students, staff, and faculty to improve conditions for every member of our university community.
I arrived in Tucson just before the pandemic hit; weathering its challenges alongside my colleagues has highlighted the anxiety and isolation that characterizes the contemporary graduate experience for many. As we emerge from this collective crisis, we have a powerful opportunity to critically examine the culture of academia as we experience it now—and how we want to shape it moving forward.
Candidates for the College of Medicine - Phoenix Representative
My name is Miranda Yousif, and I am a 1st year medical student the at University of Arizona College of Medicine- Phoenix. I ultimately chose to continue my education at UA because I felt at home with graduate students who choose to actively study beyond the books. I believe the UA student body is a diverse yet collaborative group of students that I would be honored to represent.
I am interested in serving on GPSC again because I want to unify COM-P voices and advocate for my peers. I have been in medical school for almost a year and have felt the growing pains of being at a campus that is distanced from my university’s main campus. I plan to continue to work closely with GPSC to bridge the gap between the Phoenix and Tucson medical campuses and further connect COM-P to the university at large. I believe this is the most active way I can improve my peer’s graduate medical experience.
Candidates for the College of Medicine - Tucson Representatives
Hi! I’m Heidi (she/her), a 2nd year PhD student in the Clinical Translational Sciences Program. I love games, social justice, and coding in R (check out my website @ https://heidiesteiner.netlify.app/). I’m interested in serving as a GPSC Representative for the College of Medicine – Tucson because I am extremely grateful for the opportunities granted to me by GPSC and want to give back. I recently served as the President of the Biosciences Toastmasters club at UArizona so I have relevant experience in leadership positions (and am super chatty and want to connect with you!). I believe GPSC contributes to school spirit and community welfare and I want to get all the students in COM-T involved with everything GPSC has to offer. I plan to serve as the most open and available liaison for all students in COM-T to have their voices heard.
Candidates for the College of Nursing Representatives
My name is Jennifer Beyer. I have been a nurse for 13 years and have worked in various clinical settings, including long-term care, inpatient psych, long-term acute care, critical care, and most recently, surgery. I worked as an environmental services technician, behavioral health technician, and CNA while going to school for my ADN at Yavapai College. I graduated from Arizona State University with my BSN, magna cum laude. I am active in my professional organizations, and I am the Vice President of the Northern Arizona Chapter of the Arizona Nurses Association (AZNA). Through AZNA, I continue to work with my professors and peers to advance the profession of nursing in Arizona. I am also on the unit-based council, and I am the Donor Network representative for the hospital where I work. I was one of your Graduate College of Nursing (CON) representatives last year, and it would be an honor to continue to represent you. My primary objective is to make sure that CON students have a voice in administrative decisions. Through collaboration between students and administration, we can continually improve the learning experience at the University of Arizona.
Candidates for the College of Pharmacy Representative
My name is Lisa Wan and I’m a second-year student attending the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Phoenix. I am interested in running for the GPSC COP representative to become a voice for pharmacy students. I also want to represent my fellow classmates in Phoenix and share my unique experience attending school at a young campus. The Phoenix Biomedical Campus is a relatively new campus home to a total of 175 Pharmacy students out of the total 493 on both campuses, which is 35% of the total students. I want to help the Phoenix campus build relationships, find opportunities, and obtain valuable resources to help the students thrive. Additionally, I plan to share my perspective and bring attention to the interests of the College of Pharmacy students. Pharmacy has become more and more relevant as pharmacists and pharmacy students everywhere are dedicated to COVID-19 relief. From vaccine development to administration, pharmacy is involved in every step of the way. Lastly, our students have also been working tirelessly to helping our community with vaccination PODs and clinics all over Arizona. Which is why I want to recognize and highlight all of our amazing student achievement that often goes unnoticed.
Candidates for the College of Science Representatives
My name is Emilia Basantes. I am a fifth year PhD candidate in the Chemistry program. I came from Ecuador to pursue higher education and broaden not only my science knowledge but human experience also.
I want to be a Representative in the GPSC. I believe I would be the right person for this position because I have experienced most stages of the graduate path and I can use that experience to better represent students in all levels. I successfully survived some hard and concerning experiences as a graduate student and I believe that makes me more emphatic and open to improve the whole experience for current and new students. I commit to make sure every effort is being put into making graduate education a memorable experience instead of a bearable one.
I have been part of organizing committees for new students and helped during conference/event organization giving me some administrative edge.
I would like to help especially in dealing with psychological environment concerns surrounding us (mentor-student relationship improvement tools, mental support, work-personal life balance). I believe that a successful graduate should be able to provide not just their specific knowledge and expertise but also be able to become extraordinary human beings that help others reach their maximum potential.
Hi! I am Elizabeth Gress and I am a first-year graduate student studying chemistry. Starting my graduate student career during COVID convinced me to run for GPSC in order to make graduate school less isolating for everyone.
It has been a privilege to represent you in the College of Science (CoS) on GPSC this past year. I have been a vocal representative at council, sharing issues when they have arisen, and inviting guest speakers from UADivest and CAJUA (now UCWAZ) to address us.
The role has also offered me the opportunity to scrutinize SVP Cantwell and RII via Research Policy Committee, and to fund sustainability projects as a member of Green Fund. The recent proposed changes put Green Fund's continued existence in jeopardy, and we have striven to fight this as best we can, including as many students in the discussion as possible.
In addition, I have enjoyed contributing to the CoS subcommittee on retention, putting forward proposals to increase funding, mentorship, and reform comprehensive exams.
If re-elected, I will continue to pursue this green democratic agenda, and I look forward to working with a second CoS representative to better serve all of you. I am very hopeful that we will be able to meet in person in the Fall over coffee, but the option to call in via Zoom will remain in place.
Thank you for this opportunity, and please reach out if you have questions.
Endorsed by UCWAZ.
I am running for GPSC because students deserve better. Better access to affordable food, better healthcare, and better work environments. I’ve been at UArizona since 2015, and have come to love my school. I’ve been president of a queer fraternity, Vice President of the Computer Science Graduate Student Council, and am a proud member of our union. I have a long history of service within my department, serving in multiple different roles in our graduate student council, including on the DEI committee. I want to bring the skills I’ve learned in these positions to improve our entire university.
My top priorities are to increase funding for Campus Pantry and develop a more inclusive CoS. One-third of college students experience food insecurity. That’s more than 3,000 UArizona graduate students who face hunger. We need to address this issue, and swiftly. Similarly, women, people of color, and disabled people are woefully underrepresented in the sciences. Achieving these goals will require large-scale collaborations across departments and job titles. I look forward to working towards these goals with GPSC.
Endorsements: Computer Science Graduate Student Council, Delta Lambda Phi Social Fraternity, United Campus Workers Arizona
Candidates for the College of Veterinary Medicine Representative
My name is Nicole Scherrer, and I am a member of the University of Arizona's College of Veterinary Medicine's (CVM) inaugural class. I am a member of the CVM's Student Government where I serve as a Representative for the Class of 2023. I am also a Student Ambassador where I am involved in welcoming new students into the college and helping them learn more about our program and the opportunities available at the University of Arizona. I received my bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, so I am already familiar with the many opportunities available not only for undergraduate students but for graduate and professional students, as well.
I am passionate about interdisciplinary work and am on the planning committee of One Health interdisciplinary events where I collaborate with members of my cohort along with students in the College of Public Health and the College of Medicine – Phoenix. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with graduate and professional student representatives outside of health and medical studies to help improve the student experience for all graduate and professional students attending the University of Arizona.
Candidates for the College of Management Representatives
Saiying (Tina) Ge
International students composed the majority of the graduate student population at Eller college, yet I still believe they are continuing to be underrepresented in graduate student activities. As a member of the GPSC, I have and would continue to represent the interest of the graduate population at Eller with a sympathetic eye toward international students. During my first term of being the GPSC representative, I have taken concrete steps to integrate myself into the larger GPSC to ensure that the interests of the Eller students are met. This includes serving on both the GPSC Appropriations Committee and the Campus Rec Advisory Council. I have also hosted constituency meetings and met with the Eller College Dean to discuss the goals of Eller.
I would strive to increase the engagement of international students and ensure all graduate students' voices are heard. It would be a boon for their academic and career outcomes if they could fully utilize the resources provided by the university. As the vice president of an international student organization at Ohio State, I was responsible for organizing large events such as a New Year’s Gala. I was also a committee member of the Rice University Graduate Student Association, where I coordinated various student events. I believe I can leverage my experience to put together events that would increase international students' engagement in graduate organizations. Moreover, through my prior experience in student organizations, I am confident that I will keep making a positive impact on the U of A graduate student community by amplifying the voice of the Eller College grad students and advocating for their interests at the university level.
Candidates for the Graduate College/GIDP Representatives
I am a non-traditional MD/PhD student, pursuing a PhD while on a leave of absence from medical school at Loyola University Chicago. Currently, I am in my 1st year of the Physiological Sciences PhD program, which is part of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDP). I am interested in serving as a representative for GIDP to advocate for the unique and diverse needs of the students within the GIDP. I am particularly passionate about health education and advocacy, and in turn, hope to leverage my position as a Representative to promote the mental and physical wellbeing of graduate students. As well as our physical health, our emotional stability and mental health depend greatly on our environment. The rigors of graduate school challenge each of us daily and are often accompanied by financial strains. In addition to pursuing health initiatives, I also plan to advocate on behalf of our many other needs, especially financial. While I am new to student government, I am dedicated to working toward positive change and would strive to understand the needs of my constituency and represent them fairly. I am enthusiastic about pursuing this position and would be honored to represent the student members of GIDP.
Candidates for the College of Law Representatives
I’m Isaac. I currently serve as the law school’s representative on GPSC. If you’ve seen a guy reading in direct sun near the Arizona Market when it’s 105 out, it was probably me. Feel free to say hi!
To tell you what I’m about within a hard 200 word limit, here were a few of my projects this year:
- Advocated for the revival of “Accounting For Lawyers.” A significant function of any law school is to teach marketable skills. I would like to learn accounting, and have found that many of my colleagues would, as well. As of this writing, Dean Marc Miller has repeatedly stated interest in reviving the “Accounting for Lawyers” class.
- Transparency. At GPSC’s first March meeting, I called a successful vote to post the full recordings of GPSC open session meetings on the GPSC website. GPSC has not posted the recordings for several years. I believe, unequivocally, that the public has a right to see their representatives in action and to hold them accountable. I have also led the charge on disclosures about how and to what extent GPSC members are compensated, which now appear here.
Thank you for your consideration.
-Isaac H. Stein