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National Association of Graduate-Professional Students


27th Annual National Conference Western Michigan University November 7–10, 2013 page 21 The University of Toledo Leads in the Support for Graduate Education UT GSA increases their budget by 4089% page 30

Spring 2013

Spring LAD Success

NAGPS hosts the largest Legislative Action Days ever! page 6 Volunteerism and Service Building leadership skills during your graduate program Sunday Herron, Northcentral University page 17


what’s inside on the cover



mountain clouds experiment aritst: Hameed

volunteerism and service for graduate and professional students

meet the 2013 board



president’s message

welcome new members

special thanks to the nagps communications committee




legislative actions days 2013: a demonstration of success in challenging times

2012 national conference awardees 24 new members of the year 25 nagps president’s award

nagps leadership

8 legislative actions days 2013: what attendees had to say


27 regional & national members

of the year

balance life through purpose



grad resources: support for graduate and professional students everywhere

the fiscal cliff: implications for graduate and professional students in the united states



30 the university of toledo leads in the support for graduate education

NAGPS Editorial Policy The Postgraduate Voice is a designated public forum. Editors have the authority to make all content decisions without censorship or advance approval and may edit submitted pieces for length and grammar, so long as the original meaning of the piece is unchanged.


Southeast Region page 18



Southcentral Region pages 18-19 Dear Reader,

MW WR Midwest Region page 19

Western Region page 19-20


Northeast Region page 20

NAGPS is proud to present the spring 2013 edition of the Postgraduate Voice magazine. The purpose of this publication is to provide a medium for student leaders to share information and best practices, and also to provide an outlet for graduate and professional students to publish articles that are relevant to graduate education. This spring edition is the product of the collaborative efforts of graduate and professional students across the country. We also have a two special feature articles from Grad Resources, an organization dedicated to assisting graduate and professional students. We hope you will find them interesting and useful. We are always on the lookout for insightful and interesting content for inclusion in our next issue of the PGV. If you have an article that you wish to be included in our next publication, please submit your work to Thank you for reading, Neleen Leslie NAGPS Director of Communication PhD Student, Mass Communication The Florida State University



president’s message Dear NAGPS Members, As NAGPS’ national board of directors completes its first quarter of service, we are proud to present the Spring 2013 Postgraduate Voice. First, we would like to recognize and welcome our newest members since the 26th annual National Conference at Duke University: Emerson College’s Graduate Student Association, Florida Atlantic

Above: USC’s Kevin Arnold and Melody Shekari with Jared Voskuhl on the USC campus in January (left to right).


University’s Graduate & Professional Student Association, Harvard University’s Graduate Council, Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Office of Graduate Studies, and St. Cloud University’s Graduate Student Organization. Currently, NAGPS represents six hundred and thirteen thousand (613,000) graduate and professional students enrolled at ninety-three (93) universities across the nation. At our January in-person board meeting at the University of Southern California (USC), we set in motion NAGPS’ trajectory for the year. We used the three days in Los Angeles to unify our vision through strategy conferences and presentations from board members on how we shall achieve our goals this year. Thank you to USC’s Graduate and Professional Student Senate, Kevin Arnold (Vice President), and Melody Shekari (Director of Elections & Recruitment, NAGPS Director of Outreach) for hosting NAGPS on their campus (pictured here). In early March, over seventy (70) students from nearly thirty campuses traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the largest Legislative Action Days (LAD) in NAGPS’ history. Our Director of Legislative Affairs, Meredith Niles (Ph.D. Ecology, University of California, Davis), enabled NAGPS’ members to visit one hundred (100) Congressional offices on March 4th and 5th to proficiently and professionally speak about current issues impacting education in America. This year’s LAD also included another NAGPS first: a reception in the House Education Committee Meeting Room. Over one hundred (100) attendees including students, congressional staff, and other D.C.-area professionals assembled to celebrate the role of graduate-professional education in the US. These achievements would not have been possible without student delegations’ support from your campuses’ graduate and professional student organizations. You can read more about these events and participants’ stories on page 6.

As LAD was being coordinated, our regional chairs worked with campus coordinators to hold three of our five regional conferences. Alan Liu (Ph.D., Physics, John Hopkins University), our Southeast Regional Chair, worked with Michaela Thurman and the Graduate & Professional Student Association at George Mason University; Krisofferson Culmer (Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Missouri), our Southcentral Regional Chair, worked with the University of Missouri’s Graduate Professional Council at University of Missouri; and Ngan Diep (M.A., International Relations, Syracuse), our Northeast Regional Chair, worked with Brian Spatocco and the Graduate Student Council at MIT. In April at UC Davis, Ethan Evans of the Graduate Student Association and Nima Rahimi of the Law Students Association will host our Western Regional Conference in coordination with Myka Estes (Ph.D., Neuroscience, UC Davis), our Western Regional Chair. Our Midwest Regional Chair, Michael Appel (J.D., University of Iowa), is working with Al Green at Xavier University and Kelly Blumenschein at the Ohio State University to coordinate our final regional conference for 2013 in Cincinnati, OH at Xavier. We are always inspired when we have the opportunity to meet and work with you in person at these collaborative events on your campuses across the nation. We appreciate your attendance and participation; it truly is what makes us who we are. WHO WE ARE


Finally for this quarter, as part of Graduate-Professional Student Appreciation Week, April 1 – 5, 2013, we coordinated a series of announcements for you, our members, from launching our new website and releasing this issue of PGV, to our 2013 Leadership Summit in Chicago, IL hosted by Eddie Europa and the Graduate Leadership Council at Northwestern University August 5 – 7, 2013. We look forward to serving you for the rest of the year, and we are preparing now to work alongside you to make the 2013-14 academic year an amazing one for the students on your campus. As always, feel free to contact us at if you have any questions or need assistance. Sincerely,

We are over 600,000 graduate and professional students standing together to ensure that our nation continues to produce top quality research, creative and artistic works, and invests in American education. We are the backbone of research and teaching at universities across the US, and play a key role in building our nation’s technological innovation and artistic and cultural heritage through scholarship and community engagement. We are America’s future business, political, and intellectual leaders. We are the future.


universities across the US

600,000+ graduate-professional students


WHAT WE DO NAGPS provides three core services to graduate-professional students in the US: ADVOCACY Coordinated federal and state advocacy on issues that impact students LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Events, workshops, and publications designed to empower the next generation of leaders in the US RESOURCES Access to benefits and services that help save students money and improve their quality of life NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GRADUATE-PROFESSIONAL STUDENTS

Jared Voskuhl President and CEO



legislative action days 2013 a demonstration of

success in challenging times

by Meredith Niles

Director of Legislative Affairs One of the major goals of NAGPS is to conduct advocacy on behalf of graduate and professional students nationwide and provide training and access for students in legislative and government issues. Our Legislative Action Days (LAD) is typically held twice a year and provides an opportunity for students to travel to Washington D.C. and network with other students and meet with their Congressional representatives. In addition to regional and national conferences each year, LAD is one of NAGPS’ signature events and this spring was a great success. We hosted one of the largest cohorts of student advocates for an LAD event in our organization’s history. We welcomed more than 70 students from 25 schools across 16 states to Washington D.C. for a weekend advocacy training summit and two days of meetings with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill. With nearly double the regular attendance of years past, this event gave students new opportunities to meet a wider range of students and professionals in their field. The weekend training session featured talks and advocacy coaching from professionals from the Committee for Education Funding, American Council for Education, University of California Washington Center, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, Student Public


Interest Research Group, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and the American Society for Cell Biology. Students learned about the mechanics of congressional process including sequestration, the continuing resolution, the federal appropriations cycle, and the bill-making process. Students also learned about current issues that affect their education and career, including graduate-professional student funding, open access to federally funded research, immigration reform, and open educational resources. We also introduced a new component to the advocacy training summit focused on creating opportunities for career-oriented networking. Student attended a panel discussion on Saturday with professionals holding advanced degrees who are pursuing non-academic careers in science and humanities policy. The panel featured: • Knatokie Ford, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) Policy Fellow • Stephen Kidd, Director, National Humanities Alliance • Julie Palakovich-Carr, Senior Public Policy Associate, American Institute of Biological Sciences • Kim Mealy, Director, Educational, Professional and Diversity Programs, American Political Science Association • Jeff Biggs, Director of Congressional Fellows Program, American Political Science Association

News Students had the rare opportunity to hear from policy professionals with diverse backgrounds about the skills and strategies necessary to pursue non-academic careers. The networking opportunities continued on Monday evening when we hosted a Congressional networking reception in the House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee Room— another NAGPS first-time event. With nearly 100 in attendance including congressional staff and professionals in higher education, science and humanities policy, it provided students another opportunity to develop professional connections and express their perspectives on current issues.

This year’s Spring Legislative Action Days was a clear success. We had more student advocates in attendance than ever before, new opportunities for professional development, and an increased presence on Capitol Hill. We hope to continue this success into the next Legislative Action Days event and continue advocating on issues that impact our education and careers. I want to sincerely thank each individual who attended the event and everyone who contributed to making this event possible. Now it’s off to planning an even bigger and better Legislative Action Days for the Fall of 2013!

Of course the entire event was truly made a success as a result of the dozens of meetings our students had on Capitol Hill on Monday and Tuesday. In addition to meetings with Representatives and Senators and their staff, NAGPS leaders met with staff in key congressional leadership offices. Nineteen of our NAGPS students in the STEM fields also had the rare opportunity to have a bipartisan meeting with both Republican and Democratic staff of the House Science Committee and share our stories and perspectives on STEM education and research.

NAGPS student advocates met with Republican and Democratic staff of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Monday, March 4th to discuss current issues and the future of STEM funding and education. Afterward, they snapped this photo of the future composition of the committee.



legislative action days 2013 what attendees

Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri Participation in NAGPS’s LAD provided me with an opportunity to meet fellow graduate students from across the country. I sensed everyone’s passion to become the voice to connect graduate students with policymakers. Meeting with members of Congress and their staff at the Hill was a unique experience in itself. I am now convinced of the large impact we, the graduate students, could have in our nation’s policymaking. In addition, I was honored to speak on immigration issues and share my personal stories. Hearing others’ stories at the networking reception was equally rewarding. I would like to thank everyone who taught me so much both directly and indirectly.

-Shankar Parajuli, Graduate Student Senate, Washington University in St. Louis Northern Arizona University – Graduate Student Government “The participants from Northern Arizona University were pleased to attend NAGPS’ Spring LAD event.  The opportunities to network with other, involved graduateprofessional students from across the


had to say

nation and learn from the guest speakers were invaluable.  Through this involvement we learned new avenues for lowering the costs of textbooks and journals (OER and Open Access) and are pursuing these tactics on our own campus.  Additionally, the guidance provided towards lobbying was beneficial to our own advocacy efforts.” -Jason Kordosky and Katie NichollLewandowski, Northern Arizona University

Grand Valley State University, Michigan Participating at LAD introduced me to many opportunities and was a great way to network with graduate and professional students nationwide. As a result, I made many friends during the summit and learned a lot about legislative processes and other school’s graduate institutions and governance structures. Grand Valley State University sent four students and we all came back with more knowledge about the issues that unite all graduate and professional students around the country. The Legislative Action Days taught me great advocacy skills that will be very applicable in my future professional career endeavors as well. As a result of these

skills I felt confident during our meetings with our Michigan Senator’s offices and our Congressman where we were able to inform them about our issues related to funding, open access to federally funded research and immigration and let them know that we (their constituents) are concerned and urge their attention. I am confident this is ONLY the first step towards the great success our school will have with the help and support of NAGPS. It is an honor to be part of NAGPS which connects more than 500,000 graduate and professional students around the country. -Elnur Maharramov International Students Organization, Grand Valley State University Florida Atlantic University, Florida The NAGPS LAD was a phenomenal opportunity to not only learn what issues are affecting higher education and the impact of those changes have both on education

News and the economy, but also what we can collectively accomplish by lobbying our legislators. We encouraged them not to forget the graduate and professional students from their district that they represent. It was a great opportunity to network with other NAGPS members from across the nation and explore opportunities available for graduate and professional students at the nation’s capitol. It was our university’s first time participating but definitely not the last. 

experience to meet with eight of the eleven members of the Arizona House and Senate. Especially exciting was making connections with, and being able to advocate to, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema—an ASU alumna who represents both the ASU Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses—as well as meeting with Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona’s junior Senator. As a whole, ASU GPSA and our graduate students are fortunate to have access to an organization like NAGPS.

-LaTasha H. Lee, MPH Director, GPSA Florida Atlantic University

We look forward to participating in future Legislative Action Days (LAD), and bringing new leaders to learn and advocate for a brighter and better graduate-professional student representation.

Arizona State University, Arizona The Graduate and Professional Student Association at Arizona State University (GPSA) sent five representatives to the NAGPS 2013 Advocacy Summit and Legislative Actions Days in Washington, DC. We believe it is an honor and a privilege to have this opportunity. We were joined by colleagues from Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the University of Arizona (UofA) to discuss and demonstrate how we collaborate within the universities to advocate on behalf of all students in Arizona. This collaboration is made possible through our joint involvement in the Arizona Students’ Association, a non-partisan, nonprofit, statewide advocacy group. Our time in Washington, D.C., was a wonderful

-Rhian Stotts, President, Graduate and Professional Student Association; Director, Arizona Students’ Assn.

Student advocates gathered at the University of California Washington Center to learn from policy area experts, advocates, and professionals in their field at the NAGPS 2013 Advocacy Summit and Legislative Action Days.


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balance life through purpose grad resources / “I’d like to meet somebody who doesn’t have problems with work-life balance,” says Nancy Costikyan, Director of the Office of Work/Life Resources at Harvard. Balance in life can equip us with a gyroscope that stabilizes our orbit securely around our timeless priorities. And, in the end, it’s all about those priorities. Once we understand and embrace the relationships between balance and priorities, then we are ready to place our priorities at the center of our existence and our lives in a balanced orbit about these priorities. Stress is not a “bad” thing or a “good” thing. It is value neutral. Having no stress in our lives – no change, no challenge, no novelty, no responsibility – is literally fatal. Having only minimal stress is boring while experiencing extreme stress can lead to illness and disability. What we are looking for is the right amount, the perfect balance. According to a recent Pew survey, time is the highest priority identified by people today. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said that having enough free time to do the things they wanted was a very important priority in their lives. In contrast, only 12 percent said that “being wealthy” was a very important priority. I have spoken to hundreds of graduate students about Finding Balance on Purpose. In

these talks, I encourage students to structure their lives around long-term goals and priorities. When we reflect on our ultimate goals and life priorities instead of urgent demands and take advantage of tools and habits that ensure a healthy lifestyle, then we can reduce our level of stress and increase our quality of life.

achieving this margin by visiting

For graduate students, the goal is to achieve balance in these priorities and develop intentional plans that help manage stress and bring better emotional and physical health. In order to better manage stress, consider the following tips:

If you have gone beyond the threshold of your stress limits and depleted the margin in your life, then you’ll easily feel overloaded. Fatigue begins to build and as you continue, it leads to exhaustion. Clearly, this cannot be sustained without associated dysfunction. To recover balance in life, you will first need to regain a sense of control.

1. Set achievable personal goals. 2. Utilize personal tools at your disposal. (Ex: calendar, schedule, to-do list.) 3. Keep a journal of the process and learn from times of stress in order to make adjustments. There are tremendous health benefits from journaling your experience. 4. Check out our time management tips and articles at time-management. All graduate students deal with relatively fixed limits of time, money, physical energy, emotional resilience, and intellectual capacity. If you work at a stress level that feels appropriate and sustainable, the next step is to build some margin into your life, some space between your workload and those personal limits. You can find a short video about

Margin is about making space for the things that matter most, while balance is about preserving space for those things. Margin is productivity with sustainability while overload is productivity with exhaustion and burnout.

A healthy human, in both body and mind, requires sufficient exercise, adequate sleep, appropriate nutrition, meaningful work, nourished relationships, and spiritual connectedness. It is not a sign of weakness or immaturity to admit these needs. In fact, it is part of growing in wisdom. Many graduate students struggle to set margins in their lives in the face of escalating academic, social, and occupational demands. To regain balance in graduate school, you must be willing to confront the forces of escalation and coercion wherever they are found. You can proactively move to restore a sense of control by better managing your time, people (even advisors) and


Feature disruptions. Interruptions coming to us by way of technology require our permission – we own the technology; it does not own us. You can begin facing these challenges by turning off the cellphone or computer. Or don’t answer. Recognize that the best activity is that which utilizes your strengths and DNA. Some say we have “internal wiring… that has predisposed me in this direction. It would be correct to say this is what I do, but much more correct to say this is who I am.” Priorities can be the gyroscope that keeps returning you from chaos to balance in a world that constantly attempts to abuse you for research and publication purposes. Ask yourself, “Do I have enough flexibility to adapt but enough firmness to keep the boundaries from crumbling?” The goal is to keep reaching for new discovery and achievement while keeping perspective on the important things of life. Consider Steve Jobs’ remarks at Stanford University’s 2011 commencement ceremony: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.”


On the one side of the equation, we have more and more of everything at an increasingly faster rate. Again, this is the inevitable result of progress. Balance is not the Kingdom, but if your priorities lie in that direction, balance can help you sustain your focus. Stay off the high wire. It requires astonishing balance, continuous practice, and perfect concentration. You must keep your eyes open, choose a single focal point, stay out of the wind, recognize early warning signs, be completely single-minded and almost insanely courageous. An imbalanced life implies stress, disharmony, and agitation. A balanced life seeks serenity, calmness and moderation. Speed belongs to the former, but depth to the latter. As a University of Southern California professor once wrote, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Steven Covey says, “Principles guide behavior like a compass guides a traveler.” Nothing makes a worker or family feel more helpless, or more resentful, than when control is taken away and work concerns flood home every evening. If we wish to have a life outside of work, it makes sense to complete our responsibilities expeditiously. If we dawdle it will mean, once again, another cold dinner. Here are some steps that will help: 1. Identify your prime time and pour most of your efforts into that space. Some are early birds while others are night owls. Plan your work schedule accordingly, if possible. 2. Control interruptions during sessions of productivity. Turn off the phone, shut

down the Internet browser, turn off the TV, and focus. 3. Batch similar tasks together, such as email and voicemail. As you hammer out the small things at once, you’ll feel more productive as you approach the bigger projects. 4. When researching, be selective about the information coming in. The sheer volume of information is beyond anyone’s ability to assimilate. Therefore, narrow the focus more precisely to those issues that matter most for the project at hand. 5. Don’t try to remember everything. Write down the important things and make an attempt to forget anything unimportant. 6. Prevent stress by becoming more organized, or do it by letting yourself become less organized – and you know who you are. Both the hyper-organized and the sloppy worker waste unnecessary time and effort. 7. Nest your workspace. Set things up precisely according to your particular (and sometimes peculiar) needs. If you can feel at home in a place, you’re less likely to stress out and lose your drive. 8. Minimize bodily stress by making your work environment comfortable. 9. Prioritize your commitments before each work session. 10. If you are deadline-motivated, schedule more time for a project near the due date and less time at the beginning. Special thanks to Dr. Richard Swenson. With his permission, this article drew extensively from his book, In Search of Balance.


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the fiscal cliff implications for graduate and professional students in the United States

by Meredith Niles

Director of Legislative Affairs

Right around the time we started classes in the fall was when that term started popping up everywhere- “fiscal cliff”. In September 2012, the media began to pay attention as it became clear that a series of policy events were set to transpire in one giant and very unfortunate swoop at the end of the year. So what was the fiscal cliff? What happened during the end of the year deal and how does it affect graduate and professional students? What did NAGPS do to ensure that our nation’s students aren’t significantly affected? The fiscal cliff was really two major issues: the expiration of a number of Bush-era tax cuts and the “sequestration” cuts that would slash across the board funding for federal agencies and programs, including those where many of us receive our funding. Back in 2011 lawmakers were trying desperately to come to a solution to deal with raising the debt limit and


addressing our growing deficit. Despite untold efforts, particularly by a group of senators known as the “gang of six,” a compromise could not be reached. As a result, Congress passed and the President signed the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. The BCA was really meant to be a scare tactic for everyone involved. Lawmakers purposefully included in the bill mandatory across-the-board sequestration cuts set to occur at the end of 2012 barring no other deficit solution. The thinking at the time was that the cuts would never happen- we’d never get to that point. And yet, just a few short months ago there we were sitting on the edge of the cliff. The New Year’s deal was struck just in time to prevent the full fiscal cliff – but it was only a deal on taxes. A number of new revenue streams were created by eliminating tax cuts and increasing tax rates for the wealthy. At the same time, a number of tax benefits for lower and middle class Americans were extended. These included a many tax benefits that directly affect graduate and professional students including: A permanent extension for the Student Loan Interest Deduction- you can deduct your student loans up to a certain amount depending on income A permanent extension of the employerprovided education assistance if your employer helps pay for your school A permanent extension of tax deductions

associated with Coverdell savings accounts A temporary extension of the tuition and fees deduction depending on income A temporary extension of the research and development tax credit Under this deal the sequestration cuts were delayed until March 1, with the total cuts being dropped from approximately 7.4% to 5.1% for non-defense discretionary spending (e.g., stuff we want to fund, not things we are Congressionally mandated to fund). In the time leading up to March 1st, NAGPS was out in front of sequestration advocating on behalf of students long before the deals were made. We launched a national web campaign “Avoid the Fiscal Cliff” to give students a platform to tell the story about why federal funding was important to them and America. Students uploaded videos, signed our petition and spread the word so that we could tell Washington the devastating impact that the fiscal cliff would have on students. We worked alongside our member organizations to assist them to send delegations to D.C. directlyUC Davis, Cornell University, Arizona State University and Ohio State University all sent students to D.C. in November and December to advocate for a fiscal cliff deal. We also met with the White House and shared with them directly our web campaign and concerns. All told, at least part of our message was heard- The fiscal cliff deal reached at the beginning of January very clearly showed that students and higher

News education were important and that the tax incentives in place to allow for people to pursue an advanced degree are important.

“The fiscal cliff [is] really two major issues...” Unfortunately, March 1st came and went and no deal was struck on sequestration. Up until the last possible day, NAGPS was sending letters with nearly a thousand signatures expressing our concern and dismay about the impending issue. And then, when sequestration actually did take effect, we had seventy students in Washington, D.C., for our bi-annual Legislative Action Days. One of the first things that Representatives and Senators heard when they came to work on Monday morning was the impacts of sequestration on America’s graduate and professional students.

is expected to make 1,000 fewer grants this year and the National Institutes of Health is expected to fund hundreds of fewer grants. These estimates are just for a single year- and the BCA is set to make even deeper cuts every year for the next ten years. And for that reason, the fight isn’t over. We need all graduate and professional students to take a stand and get involved with NAGPS to help prevent additional disinvestment in higher education, research and development. You can follow NAGPS’ support for different bills and legislation and send direct letters to your Congresspeople through POPVox at:

NAGPS and its members have played a crucial role in speaking up for graduate and professional students in these increasingly difficult times of funding. And we will continue to be in Washington, D.C., demonstrating the value of graduate and professional education. I hope you’ll join us.

Meredith Niles is the Director of Legislative Affairs and a PhD candidate at UC Davis. She can be reached at

But now that sequestration has happened, it is important to take stock and discuss the implications. The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences estimates that even with the lower cut rates, research and development funding would lose $8.6 billion in 2013 alone. These cuts will come from all our federal agencies including, among others, the Department of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, and Commerce as well as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The Department of Education is also expected to lose more than $2 billion. The National Science Foundation


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volunteerism and service for

graduate and professional students by Sunday Herron Northcentral University

In these hard economic times, many individuals experience difficulty finding employment, full-time or part-time. Many employers are looking for work experience as opposed to advanced degrees when recruiting for new employees. This situation can result in college students, especially those at the graduate level, encountering unanticipated disappointment. Graduate students can mitigate these challenges by using their downtime to volunteer in their local communities and beyond. Volunteering with nonprofit organizations such as libraries, churches and soup kitchens can supplement students’ skill set with leadership, team building and cultural competence. Skill building When volunteering with an organization, students can enhance their leadership skills by being an active participant in achieving the vision and goals of the company (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). For example, if the goal for the organization is to provide shelter for the homeless, as volunteers, students should express their enthusiasm and great interest in fulfilling those specific goals. Students can also demonstrate and develop their team building skills. Student volunteers work closely with organizations’

employees, managers and other volunteers to complete goals and objectives. Additionally, most graduate students possess team building skills from working in groups at school. They can impart these skills within organization for which they choose to volunteer. Another skill set students can develop is cultural competency. Some nonprofit organizations like the Salvation Army provide a second chance to individuals who have been victims of drug abuse, homelessness and mental illness. Students volunteering in these organizations will become familiar with the situations and culture of people form all walks of life. Moreover, many organizations such as soup kitchens offer free meals to the homeless and less fortunate; this provides volunteers with the opportunity to interact with people from various countries. These interactions will also provide an opportunity for students to have a unique cultural experience without leaving the United States. Adding to the organization Not only can graduate students gain knowledge and experience from volunteering but they can also bring useful skills to these organizations. One good example of these skills is communication. Organizations are always looking for individuals with good communication skills. Graduate students, through past work experience, internships, as well as in-class experience, possess many of these highly coveted competencies that would be assets

to these organizations. Public speaking, time management, writing and research skills are developed during students’ graduate careers. Volunteering would give students the opportunity to apply these skills outside the classroom setting, while helping a worthy cause. Students who are currently employed can also take advantage of volunteer opportunities that are sponsored by their employers (Garlieb & Johnson, 2011). Many organizations sponsor community events in certain areas. For example, many financial institutions sponsor events in local schools, supermarkets and shopping malls. Do what you’re passionate about Choosing a specialty for graduate studies is one of the most important decisions graduate students make. In most cases, this decision is part of the student’s personal passion. That same passion will shine in volunteer experiences. Most nonprofit organizations welcome individuals who are passionate about change and impacting lives. The expression of passions and interests will greatly assist in the organization’s goals and mission to better serve the community. References: Garlieb, S., Johnson, L., (2011), Phoenix Focus, Special Edition Career Guide, retrieved from www.alumniphoenix. edu; Kouzes, J. M., Posner, B., Z., (2007), The Leadership Challenge, 4th edition


Regional Updates


Southeast Region

Alan Lui, Regional Chair The Southeast Region of NAGPS has had a busy first quarter of 2013! Immediately after holding the Southeast Regional Conference at George Mason University in Arlington, VA, SE region member schools participated in the NAPGS Legislative Action Days. Both events took place within the span of a week. At the SE Regional Conference, graduate student leaders from Maryland to Florida had the opportunity to learn about professional


engagement, best practices development, and even “The Case Against Education”. The conference engendered many lively debates and many new friends were made as well. During LAD, SE region members went to Capitol Hill to discuss with their senators and representatives many issues relevant to graduate and professional students. Issues such as student loans, science funding, and immigration were presented and debated with government leaders. We were well received and hope that our lobbying efforts will pay off in the near future.  Currently, the SE region is reaching out to graduate student communities at smaller universities to make sure that NAGPS as an organization represents those students as well. If you know of any university who would like to be represented on a national stage, please let us know!


Southcentral Region Kristofferson Culmer, Regional Chair

The 2013 NAGPS South Central regional conference was hosted by the University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) Graduate Professional Council from Friday, March 8th – Sunday, March 10th, 2013, in Columbia, Missouri. This year’s conference hosted nine institutions from the region: • University of Missouri • Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T) • Oklahoma State University • Baylor University • Texas Tech University • Kansas State University • University of Arkansas • University of North Texas • University of Mississippi Conference attendees began arriving on Friday afternoon; they were taken on a tour of the Mizzou campus and had a brief preconference meeting. After the meeting, conference attendees were treated to dinner and an evening out in Columbia at one of GPC’s social events.

Regional Updates Each institution was able to discuss and get advice about some of the major issues they are currently facing in their respective student governments.

Conference proceedings primarily took place on Saturday, March 9th. Sessions focused on topics ranging from “Communicating Success via and Annual Report” and “Supporting Graduate Student Writing” to “Homegrown advocacy” and “Seeking Partnerships for Success – Enhancing Graduate Students’ Personal, Professional, & Academic Experiences.” The day’s proceedings also saw attending institutions report on their greatest “Achievements and Challenges”, and, in keeping with NAGPS’ drive to include a professional development component at regional conferences, a presentation, “Landing the BIG Job – Résumé and Interview Preparation,” was given by Amanda Nell, the University of Missouri Career Center’s Senior Career Services Coordinator. The final day of the conference saw a new regional board being elected and conference attendees engage in an open forum discussion.


Midwest Region

Michael Appel, Regional Chair The Midwest Region is finalizing plans for its Midwest Regional Conference at Xavier University on April 19th. Invites have been sent out and registration is now open. We are looking forward to a productive conference. After the regional conference we will turn our attention to the recruitment of universities and colleges in the Midwest. Additionally, the Midwest Region will be rebuilding its Regional Board to better advocate for the graduate and professional students in the Midwest.


Western Region

Myka Estes, Regional Chair The Western Regional Conference is less than 2 weeks away: April 13-14th at the University of California, Davis! The weather in Davis is currently fantastic, and we are expecting it to remain so for the conference. While we are still soliciting abstracts for the conference, here are some confirmed highlights: a roundtable discussion on international student issues; a session on advocacy and legislative action days at the local and federal level; a career development workshop; and a keynote address from the former President of Oberlin College. Personally, I find the individual conversations that I have with other student leaders just as valuable as all of the structured presentations. So this year, we will have plenty of breaks and interactive sessions, so that we can build relationships with one another that will benefit the schools and students we represent. In keeping with this theme, every attending school will be presenting an “Achievements and Challenges” session. These sessions are an opportunity for us to share best practices and develop strategic plans for the coming year with


Regional Updates our own graduate student associations. Please email with any questions. See you soon and bring the sunblock!


Northeast Region

Ngan Diep, Regional Chair The Northeast Regional Conference took place this past weekend from 3/15-3/17 at MIT in Cambridge, MA. We had 16 universities represented, the largest in NE history! We had a great keynote speaker, Greg Lukianoff, author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Student leaders presented on topics such as strengthening advocacy with institutional memory, creating a better social environment through unique events, and focusing programming on soft skills. Attendees filled out a survey after each talk rating the speakers presentation skills and ability to engage the audience. High scorers were acknowledged and awarded during our dinner reception. Our new Regional Board is almost complete with vacancies in the Social Justice Chair and Legal Concerns Chair (if you’re interested, please contact nerc@nagps. org!). The next NE Regional conference will be held right down the street at Tufts University! Congrats on the winning bid!


welcome new members The 2013 NAGPS Board wishes to extend a warm welcome to our new member organizations that have joined us since the beginning of 2013: Emerson College Graduate Student Association Florida Atlantic University Graduate-Professional Student Association Harvard University Graduate Council St. Cloud State University Graduate Student Association

nagps national conference

November 7–10, 2013

The NAGPS National Conference is the premier opportunity to meet other graduate-professional student leaders, learn best practices for managing your graduate-professional organization, and develop as a leader. Prepare now by saving the date on your calendar, requesting funding for travel to Kalamazoo, and beginning to assemble content for a presentation at the conference. If you have leadership lessons that you’ve learned as a leader at your institution, an idea for a productive discussion session, or any other topic relevant for other graduate and professional leaders, we invite you to share it at the national conference.

November 7–10, 2013 Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI

prepare now • mark your calendar for November 7–10, 2013 • make sure other leaders from your organization are planning to attend • request funding for leaders from your organization to attend • begin assembling content for presentations, discussions, and collaboration sessions at the conference

questions If you have any questions, contact for more information

National Association of Graduate-Professional Students

Membership Benefit: Student Advantage NAGPS now provides Student Advantage Cards to all individual members and discounts on Cards to students of organizational members! Student Advantage is the nation’s leading student discount program providing exclusive student discounts on everyday expenses online, in-store and at nationwide chains. • Individual Members will receive a complementary one-year Student Advantage Card with their paid membership – a $22.50 value! • Students represented by NAGPS Organizational Members (GSAs, GSO, GPSOs, etc.) can purchase a one-year Student Advantage Card for only $18 – 20% OFF the retail price of $22.50.

SAVe wIth PArtNerS lIke:


VISIt: tO eNrOll!

2012 national



New Member of the Year Award University of Toledo

NAGPS President’s Award Stony Brook University

Regional & National Member of the Year Awardees



new member of the year

university of toledo graduate student association The University of Toledo’s Dr. Patricia Komuniecki, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Joshua Waldman, President of the Graduate Student Association pose for a photo with their new awards. The University of Toledo is the recipient of two national awards presented at this year’s 26th Annual Conference for the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students. The University of Toledo Graduate Student Association (UT GSA) was awarded the 2013 NAGPS New Member Organization of the Year. Over the last 4 years, the University of Toledo has seen a resurgence in its graduate student organization, the GSA. This is in spite of continuous cuts to the GSA’s organizational budget; the UT GSA budget had been cut from $18,859.00 in 2002 to $3,676.00 in 2011. Despite facing a marginalized budget, the UT GSA has managed to create programs that not only serve the University of Toledo graduate student population, but also serve graduate students from universities throughout the Midwest region and beyond. One of the hallmark programs of the UT GSA, aimed at serving graduate students at the University of Toledo and across the region, is the Midwest Graduate Research Symposium (MGRS). MGRS is a multidisciplinary multi-university event that is focused on giving graduate students the experience required to better their presentation skills and to meet fellow graduate students and potential collaborators


from universities throughout the region. MGRS offers both poster and oral presentations as well as a series of professional development panels and a nationally recognized keynote speaker. Graduate student presenters are judged by distinguished faculty from multiple universities and are eligible for awards and small scholarships based on their performance. Thanks to financial support and commitment of the University of Toledo towards graduate education, this event is free to all participants. Previously, the UT GSA struggled with a diminished budget, which prohibited the programs offered through the GSA from meeting their full potential. In the summer of 2012, the GSA officers set out to increase their budget. With data showing the return on investment in graduate education and data from other universities’ graduate organizations budgets, the GSA officers were able to increase their budget by $154,000, an increase of 4,089%. With the increase in funding, UT GSA has greatly expanded several programs that were previously established and has created additional programs aimed at bettering the graduate student experience. For example, UT GSA has recently formally invited 62 universities to the

MGRS and has declared that this event will be available to graduate students from all universities, thus expanding the impact of the event to universities and graduate students from outside and beyond the Midwest region. The UT GSA has also expanded its travel reimbursement program and has established programs that facilitate the professional development of

News graduate students as well as programs which encourage graduate students at the University of Toledo to play a bigger role in making their community a better place. The 2013 Friend of Graduate Students Award was awarded to Dr. Patricia Komuniecki, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs at the University of Toledo. Dr. Komuniecki’s commitment to graduate education continues to positively impact graduate students at the University of Toledo and throughout the nation. At the University of Toledo, her support has played an important role in allowing the UT GSA to achieve their massive budget increase. Additionally, she has been a strong advocate for the GSA and their importance to graduate education. Her advocacy has been instrumental in helping to seat graduate students at the University of Toledo on many of the policy-making bodies at the University. Additionally, Dr. Komuniecki continues to have a positive impact on graduate students and graduate education at the national level by serving on the Board of Directors for the National Professional Master’s Association (NPSMA) and by being actively involved in the Council of Graduate Schools, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and numerous other organizations focused on graduate education.

The University of Toledo received two national awards this year.

Pictured below: Evgenia Sidorova, Treasurer (Left) and Vasilly Safin, Vice President (Right), Stony Brook University Graduate Student Organization

nagps president’s award stony brook university graduate student organization For over 30 years, the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) at Stony Brook University has been advancing the interests of graduate students by identifying and protecting their rights, providing a forum for public debate, and promoting graduate student involvement

in university affairs. The GSO is incorporated in the State of New York as a nonprofit organization and is legally and structurally independent of the university administration. The organization is an example of what is


News possible through the effective collaboration of the general student body, elected departmental senators, GSO Executive Committee and the university administration towards the common goal of improving the quality of life of graduate students. Over the past year alone, with the help of the Office of the President, the GSO reopened the University Café that serves as a graduate student lounge with regular GSO funded programming including jazz nights, karaoke, trivia, and concert series. With the help of the Office of the Vice President of Administration, the GSO coordinated the implementation of a mandatory health insurance waiver system so that students are not charged extraneous fees. The GSO and also helped students with external funding sources to obtain campus parking permits. In conjunction with the Graduate School, the GSO organized a reception for the incoming class in order to supplement the online orientation. The GSO also worked in tandem with the university’s administration in personnel searches for key administrative positions (VP of Finance, VP of Research, etc.). The over 5,000 graduate and professional students at Stony Brook University enjoy not only traditional funding opportunities such as research travel grants (of which there were 370 granted last year), recreation reimbursements for fitness memberships and museum visits, cultural/social events, conferences and speaker series, and departmental and club allocations, but also prestigious programs such as the Distinguished Travel Award. This award, awarded only once in a graduate student’s career with a per-student maximum of $1,500, supports graduate students who attend


prestigious conferences, performances and professional meetings that contribute to and build the national and international reputation of their department and the university as a whole. The GSO also provides Graduate Student Emergency Loans for those students who face hardships during their studies. The GSO is also proud to employ eight graduate students through generous stipends to reward them for their contributions. All graduate students who are enrolled at Stony Brook University are GSO Members. Any member of the GSO is eligible to be an officer of the GSO and may serve on any GSO committee. Several standing committees, such as the Budget Committee, Social Concerns Committee, Rules and Constitutions Committee, and various university-wide committees gather graduate students who wish to get involved in the decision making process. The GSO has continued strong relations with the Graduate Student Employees Union and the Research Assistant Union. Collaboration with these organizations during the last few years has led to the waiver of the transportation fee and mitigation of the technology fee. It has been a long-standing tradition for the GSO Executive Committee to raise funds from the administration towards valuable projects to match the GSO allocations. Last year alone, the GSO raised a record amount of $73,000, which constituted approximately 25% of its annual budget. It is the GSO’s hope that the success of the Stony Brook GSO will inspire productive collaboration between graduate student government leaders and the administration at universities across the country.

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2012 regional & national members of the year

On top: (left) Southeast Region: Duke University; (right) Northeast Region: Massachusetts Institute of Technology On bottom: (left) Western Region & National Member of the Year: Colorado School of Mines; (right) Southcentral Region: Texas Tech University


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grad resources

support for graduate and professional students everywhere Grad Resources is a source of support for the emotional and spiritual needs of graduate and professional students everywhere. The website ( has a variety of articles that speak to the challenges that keep so many students from completing their advanced degree. However, for some, the grad pressures become more than an article can address. In 1998, Jason Altom, a 27-year old doctoral student from Harvard, felt overwhelmed by his program and oppressed by his advisor and took his own life. In response to Jason Altom’s tragic story, Grad Resources launched the National Grad Crisis-Line in 1999. Today, The Crisis-Line helps graduate students reach confidential, free telephone counseling, provided by trained staff who understand the unique needs of graduate students. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. It is a voice of support whenever and wherever graduate and professional students need it most. If away for research and needing to talk, Skype the Crisis-Line at 800-472-3457.   The articles are always there on the site, the Crisis-Line counselors are standing by, but for some students an ongoing meaningful connection is what’s needed. Grad Resources offers E-Mentors for those students who want to correspond with peers who have been through similar struggles. We know that even an email from another student who understands could prove to be the most important lifeline that comes into your inbox. For those graduate students who want to wrestle with the intersection of personal faith and their academics, Grad Resources offers supportive faith-based communities where peers and faculty speakers engage in dialog on life’s deeper questions. To see if a group exists on your campus, email  

A national study commissioned by Grad Resources in 2010 asked graduate students about the intensity of the stress and pressure they faced. Over 43% of students surveyed indicated that they were experiencing stress “Beyond their capacity to handle it.” We want to encourage grads to bring stress to a manageable state by acquiring the life skills that develop balance, make connections that add meaning, and getting help at those critical junctures of despair. Your greatest contribution is yet to come, but it means hanging in today. Let us help!

1.800.GRAD.HLP (472-3457)



the university of toledo leads in the support for graduate education


Graduate education is becoming increasingly important in the global economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published data showing that by the year 2020, the number of jobs requiring a master’s degree and/or a doctoral degree will increase by 18% and 17%, respectively. This equates to a 2.5 million increase in the number of jobs requiring advanced degrees. The data published by the BLS has likely contributed to the 45% increase in the number of full time graduate students enrolled in U.S. universities as published by the National Center for Education Statistics. Given the economic and societal need for individuals with advanced degrees, universities must begin exploring ways to increase the support of graduate education in ways that will help to fulfill this need. They must begin to focus more of their resources on the needs of graduate students, as the needs of graduate students are often different from the needs of the undergraduate student population. Graduate student organizations (GSO) play an important role in helping universities to serve the graduate student population. GSOs often serve as the liaison between the graduate student population and the policymakers of the university. GSOs often represent graduate students at their respective universities and communicate students’ positions on state and national policy pertaining to graduate education to the university administration. In addition to serving as the voice of graduate students, GSOs often serve as the primary organization responsible for providing programs that facilitate the academic and professional development of their graduate student population. However, despite making significant contributions to the success of their respective universities, GSOs are often faced with inadequately funded budgets.

News The leaders of GSOs at universities throughout the United States must work to increase their university’s financial support of graduate education by increasing funding for their university’s GSO. Given the economic hardships that many universities face, decreased funding from the state and, in some cases, decreased enrollment numbers, how can GSO leaders go about increasing funding for the graduate student populations that they represent? Recently, the University of Toledo has approved a budget increase of $154,000 to the University of Toledo Graduate Student Association (UT GSA), in response to a request from the organization’s officers. This funding increased the UT GSA’s budget from $3,676 to $157,676. So, what was the approach used by the UT GSA officers that allowed them successfully increase their budget by 4,089%? The GSA at the University of Toledo has seen a recent revival in its activities beginning in 2009. It went from being a relatively ineffective organization with a general assembly consisting of only four (4) officers, to a thriving organization that actively represents the approximately five thousand (5,000) graduate students enrolled at the University of Toledo. Throughout this time, it has developed numerous programs aimed at addressing the academic and professional needs of graduate students at the University of Toledo and the Midwestern United States. Despite this new revival, the UT GSA budget remained persistently low. In 2010, the UT GSA’s officers began requesting meetings with UT senior administration with the purpose of increasing their organizational budget. In the summer of 2012, the senior administration agreed to meet with GSA officers to hear a pitch for a budget increase. At this meeting the UT GSA’s president and immediate past president presented a 30 minute pitch that focused on the accomplishments of the UT GSA, the budgets of peer and aspirational universities’ GSOs, the return on investment associated with an investment in graduate education at the University of Toledo, and a set of proposed program offerings that would be rolled out if the budget increase were granted.

After being apprised of the importance of graduate education at the university, regional and national levels, and the impact of the UT GSA on graduate education, the senior administration at the University of Toledo agreed to increase the budget of the UT GSA by $154,000, the amount requested by the organization’s officers. The willingness of the University of Toledo’s senior administration to increase its financial support of the UT GSA is in line with the University’s approach to graduate education. By supporting the UT GSA, the University of Toledo Administration has allowed UT to become a leading supporter of graduate education, both at UT and across the nation. With this increased support, UT has greatly expanded its graduate centered programs, including but not limited to the travel reimbursement program and the academic and professional development workshop series. They have also created new programs that support graduate student leadership, graduate student research, and graduate student involvement in the community. In addition to increasing support for programs aimed at serving graduate students at UT, the University of Toledo has also increased its support for graduate students nationwide by expanding one of its hallmark programs, the Midwest Graduate Research Symposium, a multidisciplinary, multi-university conference aimed at giving graduate students the opportunity to meet colleagues and potential collaborators while presenting their research to an audience representing diverse research interests. This year, more than 70 universities throughout the United States have been invited to participate in the symposium, and registration is free to all presenters. The University of Toledo has recently been recognized by the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students for their support of graduate education. At the 26th Annual Conference for the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students the UT GSA was awarded the “2013 New Member Organization of the Year Award” and on behalf of Dr. Patricia Komuniecki, Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, the “2013 Friend of Graduate Students Award”.

Opposite Page: The University of Toledo Senior Administration poses for a picture with Joshua Waldman on behalf of the Graduate Student Association and Dr. Patricia Komuniecki, winners of the “2013 New Member Organization of the Year Award” and the “2013 Friend of Graduate Students Award”, respectively. From left to right: Chuck Lehnert, Vice President of Administration, Scott Scarborough, PhD, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Joshua Waldman, President of the Graduate Student Association, Lloyd Jacobs, MD, President of the University of Toledo, Patricia Komuniecki, PhD, Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, Jeffrey Gold, MD, Chancellor and Executive Vice President for the Bioscience and Health Affairs, Dean of the College of Medicine, David Dabney, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance.



The 2012-2013 University of Toledo Graduate Student Association Officers. Top Row: Cory Goe, Main Campus Secretary (Left), Aaron Shaw, Health Science Campus Secretary (Right) Bottom Row (Left to Right): Paul Roland, Treasurer, Monica McKnight, Vice President, Joshua Waldman, President.



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Visit the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) today at to learn more and enroll.

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meet the 2013 board Name: Jared Voskuhl Age: 32 Hometown: Tulsa, OK Institution: University of California, Davis (UCD) Major/Field of Study: Law Education: Northwestern University, MA Sociology; Houston Baptist University, BA Sociology; BA English Professional Experience: Federal Trade Commission; Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento; UCD Family Protection & Legal Assistance Clinic; California International Law Center; UCD Civil Rights Clinic; Kirkland & Ellis LLP; American Bar Foundation Other affiliations: America Inns of Court; UCD Business Law Journal, Editor; UCD Chancellor’s Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board; UCD Law Students Association, External Vice President; UCD Graduate Student Association, Law Student Representative; American Sociological Association Vision: My vision for the future of graduateprofessional education in the U.S. is one in which increased public investment in science, research, and scholarship fuels


innovation and economic growth. Graduate and professional education is essential to our nation’s continued success in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The next generation of inventors and leaders are being trained now for the challenges of the private sector, the public interest, and academe. The progress of tomorrow depends on the research and innovation of today’s forwardthinking graduate-professionals. As president and CEO of NAGPS, I shall continue the work of my immediate predecessors, Alex Evans (2010, MIT), Dr. Jon Kowalski (2011, Carnegie Mellon University), and Matt Cooper (2012, University of North Texas) in pursuing the association’s mission and collaborating with our administrators and policymakers to secure comprehensive support for our emerging graduate-professional leaders.

Name: Brandon Milonovich Age: 22 Hometown: Fort Johnson, NY Institution: Syracuse University Major/Field of Study: Teaching & Curriculum with Emphasis in Mathematics Education Education: Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY), MS. Teaching & Curriculum with emphasis

on Mathematics Education; The College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY), BA. Adolescence Mathematics Education Professional Experience: Brandon has worked with urban youth throughout his undergraduate career through various programs. As a student teacher, he taught Introduction to Geometry, Business Math, Algebra, and 8th Grade Math. During his time at Syracuse, Brandon has taught Calculus I and Pre-Calculus. He currently teaches Elementary Statistics and Educational Computing at The College of Saint Rose, as well as Algebra at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center, a division of Hudson Valley Community College. Other Affiliations: While at Syracuse, Brandon was a University Senator in their Graduate Student Organization. He founded and chaired the Legislative Action Committee in the GSO, and also chaired the Computing Services Committee in the University Senate. He also served as the Northeast Regional Chair in the NAGPS’ 2012 administration. Vision: As the 2013 Vice President, Brandon Milonovich has four primary objectives: to focus on developing and strengthening all NAGPS events including National Conference, Regional Conferences, the Graduate Student Leadership Summit, and Advocacy Summit/ Legislative Action Days, to further develop transparency and communication for NAGPS, both internally and externally, to strengthen our outreach efforts to new and lapsed members, and to increase general board productivity.


Name: Patrick Neary Age: 26 Hometown: Tampa, FL Institution: Syracuse University Major/Field of Study: PhD, Mathematics Education: Syracuse University, MS Mathematics; Rice University, BA Mathematics and Physics Professional Experience: Patrick’s primary work experience has been in IT support and computer repairs. He served as IT Help Desk Technician at Rice University from 2006 to 2008 and was simultaneously operating his own business, Consumer Computer Repair. Other affiliations: In addition to his role as NAGPS Director of Administration, Patrick serves as Internal Vice President of the Graduate Student Organization at Syracuse University, he also serves as the Graduate Student Representative on the Syracuse University Chancellor Search Committee. Vision: As the Director of Administration, Patrick hopes to ensure a successful transition to our new digital systems. The new website will better organize and present the information our members and graduate students need, and our new database systems will provide more reliable services to our members and allow the NAGPS to function more efficiently. In addition, he plans to

complete an audit of the NAGPS governing documents as part of an overarching goal of monitoring NAGPS’s activities from a procedural standpoint. Patrick’s vision for the NAGPS is that it becomes an internationally recognized body of graduate students who successfully build the strength of graduate student populations nationwide, advocate on behalf of graduate students, and promote the effective and comprehensive exchange of information between local bodies of graduate students.

Name: Anna Pechenina Age: 25 Hometown: Kirksville, Missouri Institution: University of North Texas Major/Field of Study: Political Science/ Comparative Politics/Methodology Education: University of North Texas, PhD Political Science (current); Truman State University, BA Music and Political Science Professional Experience: Anna currently works as an Editorial Assistant for the American Political Science Review. She has previously served as a mentor for NSF REU in Peace Conflict Management and Peace Science. Other affiliations: In addition to her role as NAGPS Director of Finance, Anna serves as Vice President of Administration and Finance

for the Graduate Student Council at UNT. Vision: As a Director of Finance, Anna hopes to work with the Director of Outreach to develop the connections and networks necessary for the creation of a NAGPS Endowment Fund.

Name: Neleen Leslie Age: 28 Hometown: Westmoreland, Jamaica Institution: Florida State University Major/Field of Study: PhD, Mass Communication (Emphasis on Multicultural Marketing Communication) Education: Florida State University, Ph.D. Mass Communication (current); Florida State University, MSc. Integrated Marketing Communication, Graduate Certificate, Project Management; University of Technology, Jamaica, B.B.A, Marketing & International Business Professional Experience: Neleen is currently a graduate teaching assistant at The Florida State University, where she is the lead instructor for the undergraduate Hispanic Marketing Communication course. She also serves as program administrator in the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at FSU. Prior to attending FSU, Neleen worked as a Brand Manager, Marketing Officer and Marketing Assistant in




meet the 2013 board (cont.) the Jamaican pharmaceutical industry over a three-year period. Other affiliations: In addition to her role as NAGPS Director of Communication, Neleen also serves as President of the Black Graduate Student Association at FSU and Deputy Speaker for Communications in the Congress of Graduate Students. Neleen is also a member of the National Communication Association, the Association of Marketing Theory and Practice, the Southern States Communication Association and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Vision: As Director of Communications, Neleen’s main objective is to ensure that NAGPS communicates effectively with all its stakeholders. In order to do this, she will ensure that NAGPS members receive regular, timely communication on current developments within the organization as well as current events. She also hopes to build awareness of the NAGPS brand through publicity of NAGPS events and activities.


Eta and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Name: Jason Striker Age: 29 Hometown: Splinter City, AZ Institution: Arizona State University Major/Field of Study: MA

Communication Studies Education: Northern Arizona University, B.S. Communication Studies (summa cum laude) Professional Experience: For the previous 10 years Jason was a marketing and communications professional working for and with some of the largest technology, luxury products, and ISPs in the country. Some organizations that he has worked with include Google, GoDaddy, Waterford-Wedgewood, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever UK, Este Lauder – Origins, Oracle, Eloqua, Marketo, SalesForce. com, Cable Shopping Network, among others. Other affiliations: In addition to his role as NAGPS Director of Relations, Jason is also an active member of the Graduate & Professional Student Association at Arizona State University. He is also a member of the National Communication Association, International Communication Association, and the Association of Cultural Studies. Jason is also a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda, Lambda Phi

Vision: As the Director of Relations, Jason’s aim is to use his previous business experience and apply best practices, to make the association lean, agile, and prepared for the future. Additionally, he plans to raise the level of visibility of NAGPS and in a way that will make NAGPS a viable and desirable partner for corporate sponsorship. Jason’s vision is that NAGPS will be recognized nationally and internationally as the voice for graduate – professional student representation and advocacy. While he does not expect to accomplish all of these things in one year, Jason hopes to lay the foundation for future graduate students to have the tools and support they will need to achieve this goal.

Name: Melody Shekari Age: 25 Hometown: Chattanooga, TN Institution: University of Southern California Major/Field of Study: Law) Education: University of Washington, Master of Public Administration;



Bentley University, B.S. Economics and International Relations (Cum laude) Professional Experience: Melody is president elect of the USC Graduate Student Government for the 2013-2014 academic year. She is also a USC LL.M Legal Writing Student Fellow and the USC Graduate Student Government Director of Elections and Recruitment. In the past, Melody has worked as a MBA student tutor, a research analyst for the American Farmland Trust in Seattle, WA and Program Supervisor at, IntellectSpace, Seattle, WA, among others. Other affiliations: In addition to her role as NAGPS Director of Outreach, Melody is also a member of staff of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice, a Graduate Student Government Senator in the Student Bar Association and Co-President of the Environmental Law Society. Melody also volunteers with the Public Interest Law Foundation and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and is a member of the Save Evans Advocacy Group’s Leadership Board. Vision: In her role in NAGPS, Melody hopes to bring more schools into the NAGPS member network, so that members can benefit from each other’s experiences and share new ideas and tools for effective student governance. Her goal is to have all states represented in the NAGPS membership, including both public and private institutions, from large research institutions to small, focused colleges. This supports the collective vision of NAGPS being the representative organization of graduate students across the country and working to improve the graduate student experience through both local graduate student governance and at the federal policy level.

Name: Meredith Niles Age: 29 Hometown: Westminster, Maryland Institution: University of California, Davis Major/Field of Study: Ecology, studying climate change mitigation and adaptation among California and New Zealand farmers Education: The Catholic University of America, B.A. Politics Professional Experience: Meredith’s professional experience spans a number of years and several organizations. She has worked as Cool Foods Campaign Director and as a research policy intern at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. She was also part of the education staff at the Appalachian Mountain Club in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire. Other previous positions held include: Public Affairs Coordinator and Management Assistant in the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Institute, Executive Committee Member at the UC Davis Russell Ranch Research Facility, Co-Chair of the UC Davis Ecology Graduate Student Association and a Member of the Nutrient Management Carbon Offset Market Protocol Workgroup for Climate Action Reserve. Meredith also served on the NAGPS Legislative Concerns Committee from 2011-12. Vision: As the largest entirely student run organization representing graduate and professional students at public and private universities, Meredith sees NAGPS as a student powerhouse and a powerful voice for student advocacy. As the Director of Legislative Affairs she is aiming to ramp up NAGPS’ legislative and advocacy efforts through three key initiatives. First, she plans to increase the resources NAGPS provides to its members so that they can advocate alongside NAGPS at bi-annual legislative action days and on their own throughout the year. Second, Meredith plans to increase NAGPS’ presence at federal agencies that provide a key source of funding for graduate students. Finally, she hopes to strengthen relationships on Capitol Hill and with key higher education allies while simultaneously providing networking opportunities for our students by hosting an annual networking event at legislative action days.

Other affiliations: In addition to her role as NAGPS Legislative Concerns Chair, Meredith currently serves as External Chair in the UC Davis Graduate Student Association. In the years prior, she has also served as Deputy External Chair in the UC Davis Graduate Student Association, External Board Member in the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability



meet the 2013 board (cont.) Name: Grant Atkinson Age: 27 Hometown: San Jose, California, USA Institution: Santa Clara University School of Law Major/Field of Study: Law Education: College of Santa Fe, B.A. Political Science; Clara University School of Law, J.D. Candidate (2013) Professional Experience: Grant has had extensive experience as a law clerk at several organizations, including the Katherine and George Alexander Community Law Clinic, Consumer Protection in San Jose CA (2013), the Herbert T. Patty Law, Intellectual Property, San Jose CA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Civil Litigation, San Jose CA, Oakland City Attorney’s Office, Advisory, Oakland CA, Santa Clara County DA’s Office, Juvenile Division. He has also served as a Judicial Extern at the Santa Clara County Superior Court, Judge Ritchie in San Jose, CA. Other affiliations: In addition to his position as NAGPS Legal Concerns Chair, Grant also serves as President of the Student Bar Association at Santa Clara Law.  Vision: As the inaugural Legal Concerns


Chair, Grant is working to build a national network of legal resources that NAGPS can utilize to further advance the interests of its constituents. Currently, he is connecting with law schools and advocacy groups across the country and introducing new NAGPS services that help provide legal support and information for graduate and professional students.

Name: Florencio U. Aranda, III Age: 26 Hometown: Presidio, Texas, USA/Ojinaga, Chihuahua, México Institution: Texas Tech University Major/Field of Study: PhD, Higher Education (Emphasis - Policy, Minor – Spanish) Education: Texas Tech University, MA Romance Languages, Spanish and Portuguese; Texas Tech University, BA Spanish Professional Experience: Florencio currently serves as a Graduate Research Assistant in the College of Education at Texas Tech University. In the past, he has held positions as a Document Translator in the Frenship Independent School District, Wolfforth, TX, a Spanish Instructor in the Upward Bound

Program organized by the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity, & Community Engagement at Texas Tech University, as well as an English/Spanish Legal Interpreter, West Texas Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases, among others. Other affiliations: In addition to his role as the NAGPS Social Justice Chair, Floerencio is also the 2013 Graduate Student Fellow for the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE), President of the Graduate Student Advisory Council at Texas Tech University and President of the Kappa Delta Pi, Nu Sigma Chapter (an International Honor Society in Education). He has previously served as Vice-President and Secretary of Sigma Delta Pi, National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Alpha Phi Chapter at Texas Tech as well Secretary and Vice-President of Céfiro: Enlace Hispano Cultural y Literario Graduate Student Organization at Texas Tech University. Vision: As the 2013 Social Justice Chair of NAGPS, Florencio’s primary focus will be to cultivate awareness of civil liberties and/or social injustices that diverse graduate and professional students face, while encouraging the National Board of Directors and NAGPS members to continue advocating for these students at the local, regional, state, and national levels. oers professional proofreading and editing services to all NAGPS members.

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meet the 2013 board (cont.) Sorority, Inc. and Vice President of the Student Personnel Association. Name: Maria R. Marion Age: 24 Hometown: Memphis, TN Institution: University of Mississippi Major/Field of Study: Higher Education Education: Spelman College, BA Political Science; University of Mississippi, MA Higher Education Student Personnel Experience: Maria currently works as a graduate assistant in the Financial Aid office at the University of Mississippi; she serves as the Family Literacy Work Study Coordinator and EHDE 105 - First - Year Experience Course instructor. Previous positions held include: Graduate Assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students/Multicultural Affairs, Graduate Assistant in the Office of Enrollment Services – Orientation, and Program Coordinator for Southern Avenue Charter Schools in Memphis, TN. Other affiliations: In addition to her role as NAGPS Employment Concerns Chair, Maria currently serves as the Social and Philanthropic Chair of the University of Mississippi’s Graduate Student Council and the Co-Chair of the Multicultural Center Working Group. Maria is also a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Alpha


Vision: As Employment Concerns Chair of NAGPS, Maria plans to improve post-graduate employment by providing professional development and enabling effective responses to employment concerns and issues for the graduate and professional communities. Initiatives for the year will include: Implementation of professional development workshops at all regional NAGPS conferences and also at the National Conference, coordination of the NAGPS Career Fair at the National Conference, revitalization of the NAGPS JobBank Resource, creation of a NAGPS Alumni Network, and the development of a 3-5 year Strategic Plan for the Employment Concerns Committee that will include a National Career Fair for Graduate Students and National Research Symposium. It is Maria’s hope that individual members of NAGPS will receive tangible benefits through professional development, job placement and become equipped to advocate for graduate and professional student employment concerns across the nation.

Name: Parth Nagarkar Age: 25 Hometown: Mumbai, India Institution: Arizona State University Major/Field of Study: Computer Science Education: Louisiana Tech University, B.S. Computer Science. Other affiliations: At Arizona State University, Parth has been a representative for the School of Engineering since fall 2009, and has chaired the International Students Committee in Arizona State University’s GPSA for the last two years. Vision: As International Student Concerns Chair, Parth deals with issues concerning international graduate and professional students studying in the US and helps advocate on their behalf. He also works with the regional International Student Concerns chairs to help resolve any problems at local campuses. In addition to advocating on legislative issues regarding international graduate and professional students in the US, Parth hopes to complete the “International Students Guide,” an idea that was conceptualized by previous administrations.


Name: Ngan Diep Age: 26 Hometown: Santa Ana, CA Institution: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University Major/Field of Study: Masters in Economics; Masters in International Relations

least, she will work to increase membership and awareness of NAPGS among graduate students in the Northeast region.

Education: UC San Diego, B.S. Cognitive Science Professional Experience: Ngan has interned in the Department of Commerce at International Trade Administration. Other affiliations: In addition to her role as NAGPS Northeast Regional Chair, Ngan serves as a Senator in the Graduate Student Organization at Syracuse University. She also previously served as the treasurer of the International Relations Student Association at Syracuse. Vision: Ngan’s goal is to increase communication among NAGPS’ National & Regional boards and member schools. To that extent she will reach out to presidents at member schools to discuss pressing issues on their campuses and solicit feedback about how NAGPS can better serve them. During her tenure, Ngan will also explore different options and tools that enable northeast schools to communicate, share best practices, data, and ask input/advice from each other. Last but not

Iowa, B.S. Political Science

Name: Michael Appel Age: 24 Hometown: Coralville, Iowa Institution: University of Iowa College of Law Major/Field of Study: Law Education: University of

Professional Experience: Michael has worked as the Judicial Intern for the Honorable Richard H. Kyle, Federal District Judge District of Minnesota, Law Clerk in the Felony Trials Division of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Summer Associate at Crowell & Moring’s Washington DC office. In the fall of 2013, Michael will begin a new position as an Associate at Crowell & Moring in Washington, DC. Other affiliations: In addition to his role as NAGPS Midwest Regional Chair, Michael serves as the Academic Director of the Moot Court Board, President of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students at University of Iowa’s Graduate and Professional Student Government and a member of the National LGBT Bar Association. Vision: As a recent addition to NAGPS, Michael has two immediate priorities: to become

acquainted with the organization and its members so he is aware of the resources and opportunities that NAGPS provides and to become familiar with his region’s schools and students. While he is new to NAGPS, Michael is very familiar with advocating for graduate and professional students. His goal for this year is to continue to advocate for graduates and professionals of the Midwest. Specifically, Michael would like to work with the Midwest’s graduate and professional students to highlight their contributions within their respective states, the Midwest, and nation.

Name: Myka Estes Age: 31 Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO Institution: University of California, Davis Major/Field of Study: PhD, Neuroscience and MS, Immunology Education: University of Colorado, Boulder, BS Molecular Biology Professional Experience: Myka has had extensive work experience as a scientist and researcher. She has worked as a Research Technician (7) at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research in Indianapolis, IN. She also worked as a Research Associate (II) at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, FL. Other affiliations: In addition to her role as NAGPS Western Regional Chair, Myka volunteers as an instructor for the



meet the 2013 board (cont.) Prison University Project at San Quentin. She is also a member of Society for Neuroscience and Deputy External Chair for UC Davis Graduate Student Association. Vision: As Western Regional Chair for NAGPS, Myka’s goals are to highlight the impact of graduate and professional students, advocate for funding and resources at the local and national levels, provide a forum for the exchange of best practices and organize the annual Western Regional Conference. Myka hopes to continue to build upon recent successes in the Western region by connecting student leaders and promoting frequent dialogue.

Chapel Hill, B.S. Physics

Name: Alan Liu Age: 25 Hometown: Greensboro, NC Institution: Johns Hopkins University Major/Field of Study: Ph.D. Physics Education: UNC-

Professional experience: Alan is currently a research and teaching assistant at Johns Hopkins. He has also interned at the Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer office.


Other affiliations: In addition to his role as NAGPS Southeast Regional Chair, Alan serves as the Legislative Concerns Chair in the Johns Hopkins University Graduate Representative Organization, and is the president of the physics graduate student group at Hopkins. Vision: NAGPS has a rich history of advocacy. However, in order to be an effective organization, NAGPS needs to cultivate the ability to reach out to its half million members directly. Alan’s vision is for NAGPS to engage each of its members on a tangible and personal level.

Name: Kristofferson Culmer Age: A gentleman never tells. Hometown: Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas Institution: University of Missouri (M-I-

Z…Z-O-U!) Major/Field of Study: MSc. Computer Science Education: Central Methodist University, BS Computer Science; Central Methodist University, BS Business Professional Experience: Kristofferson has worked as an Operations Manager for

Dunkin Donuts in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas; a Web Developer at the University of Missouri Career Center; and is currently a doctoral student in Computer Science at the University of Missouri, where he is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the College of Engineering. Other Affiliations: In addition to his role as NAGPS South Central Regional Chair, Kristofferson also serves as the President of the Graduate Professional Council (GPC) at the University of Missouri, Chair of the Intercampus Student Council for the University of Missouri System, and Chapter Advisory Board Chairman for the Missouri Beta-Prime chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Central Methodist University. Vision: As the Chair for the South Central Region, Kristofferson wants to work to engage students at member institutions. The South Central Regional Board will focus on developing a strong member base by providing the resources and support needed by members through regular information sharing sessions, ongoing support, development of best-practices and strategic planning for respective student governments.


Name: Matt Cooper Position: Immediate Past President Age: 26 Hometown: Canyon, TX Institution: University of North Texas (recent graduate) Major/Field of Study: MBA Decision Sciences/ MS Managerial Accounting Education: M.B.A, Decision Sciences, University of North Texas; M.S., Managerial Accounting, University of North Texas; B.S., Psychology and Economics, Sam Houston State University Professional Experience: Matt currently serves as the Head of Analysis and Special

Projects in the Office of the Vice President of Research and Economic Development at the University of North Texas, where he provides quantitative analysis and leadership for enterprise-level data-based initiatives. He also specializes in predictive analytics, econometric forecasting, behavioral modeling, statistical fraud detection, and managerial cost accounting, and has led data-based initiatives for banks, financial services firms, and management consultancies in the Dallas, TX area. Vision: In 2013 Matt hopes to provide strategic guidance to the current Board of Directors and facilitate the transition of knowledge and organizational history from the prior leadership team.


special thanks

to the nagps communications committee Name: Lisa Marie Lacy Age: 51 Hometown: Pasadena, California; residing in Scottsdale Arizona Institution:Arizona State University, Tempe AZ Major/Field of Study: Doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education Name: Kyna Betancourt Age: 29 Hometown: Tampa, Florida Institution: University of South Florida, Tampa, FL Major/Field of Study: Doctoral Candidate in Communication Sciences and Disorders Name: Jennifer Nguyen Age: 23 Hometown: Bradenton, FL; residing in Somerville, MA Institution: Tufts University, Medford MA Major/Field of Study: Doctoral Candidate in Molecular Biology Name: Monica McKnight Age: 30 Hometown: Wayne, WV; residing in Toledo, OH Institution: University of Toledo Major/Field of Study: Master of Business Administration, Health Program Development, Patient Advocacy


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nagps leadership 2013 NAGPS Board Executive Committee:

Jared Voskuhl, President & CEO Brandon Milonovich, Vice President Patrick Neary, Director of Administration Neleen Leslie, Director of Communications Anna Pechenina, Director of Finance Jason Striker, Director of Relations Melody Shekari, Director of Outreach Meredith Niles, Director of Legislative Affairs Matt Cooper, Ex Officio

Committee Chairs:

Maria Marion, Employment Concerns Parth Nagarkar, International Student Concerns  Florencio U Aranda, III, Social Justice Grant Atkinson, Legal Concerns

Regional Chairs:

Michael Appel, Midwest Region Ngan Diep, Northeast Region Alan Liu, Southeast Region Kristofferson Culmer, Southcentral Region Myka Estes, Western Region

Our Vision

NAGPS’s vision is to be a nationally representative and internationally recognized Association that advocates for institutional and structural changes to improve graduate and professional education in the United States.

Our Mission

NAGPS’ mission is to develop and sustain a member network that connects graduate and professional students across America so they may share resources and best practices in ways that empower member organizations to successfully serve their constituents and amplify students’ voices to campus, state, and federal policymakers.

Special Thanks

Graphic Designer: Sarah F. Wimberley Copy Editor: David Moadel, M.Ed. Contributing Authors: Sunday Herron, Jason Kordosky, LaTasha H. Lee, Elnur Mahrramov, Katie NichollLewandowski, Shankar Parajuli, Nick Repak, Rhian Stotts


National Association of Graduate-Professional Students PO Box 96503 #36821 Washington, DC 20090-6503 202.643.8043


Postgraduate Voice Spring 2013  

The Postgraduate Voice is a publication of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students.