2021-2022 GSA Executive Council Elections
Date: May 5, 2021
Updated: May 26, 2021
Below is a list of the 2021-2022 GSA Executive Council candidates.
My name is Jonathan Minnick, and I am a fifth year PhD candidate in the department of Music, and it is with great pleasure to accept the nomination for President of the Graduate Student Association here at UC Davis for the 2021- 2022 Academic Year.
As President for the past three years, I have learned so much about what it means to be a leader and how to advocate in the best interests of Graduate Students. This past year was extremely tough, but I was so confident in my team to successfully lead the GSA and provide the best support we could. We were able to provide greater direct support to students and representatives and have been able to re-organize our budget to accommodate for this modality shift. We also worked with Graduate Studies to relax Time-to-Degree restrictions, and I also worked tirelessly with Academic Senate to ensure instructional flexibility, accommodations, and academic support for all students. Most recently, I worked with Graduate Studies on developing a plan to give financial aid grants directly to students, and with another package arriving in the Fall, I am advocating that graduate students receive a larger cut, as we have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, not just for ourselves, but for our classes, labs, and committees. We successfully managed to move into remote instruction but moving back to in person is a long and difficult process, but I am working right now on the planning committee that ensures safety and public health over anything else. In that process, I am prioritizing the needs of graduate students, so we are able to conduct our research, teach, and learn in the safest manner possible. I have also been in close contact with our Preferred Partnership Program and have signed university partnerships that will amount to nearly $50,000 in additional funding for student travel awards and professional development grants over the next five to ten years. Expanding these funds makes sure that we are all given the opportunity to travel, research, and improve ourselves academically.
Additionally, as co-chair of the systemwide Council of Presidents, I was able to have productive and meaningful conversations on campus safety and policing, which is one of the most important arenas of this past year. I was involved in the student advocacy process and will maintain a strong position for students and our demands on campus policing. This conversation is not over. We still have a lot of work to do systemwide and on campus, and I am committed to voicing student demands at every step. I have also been a strong force in ensuring that international students are not left behind in conversations on the systemwide level, especially as we are planning for in-person instruction in the Fall.
In the coming year, I would like to continue the great work we started last year as we transition back to in-person instruction. There are certain student populations that were adversely affected by COVID-19, and I feel a responsibility to demand the administration support these groups, including student parents and international students. I am also looking forward to reopening our new space in Walker Hall, which we are so eager for! We will provide a brand-new Graduate Student Pantry experience, with new offerings, such as refrigerated goods, and we will be thrilled to host you all as soon as we can. Mental Health showed up as one of the biggest downfalls of our student health system this last year, and I will work with Student Affairs and Student Health to increase assistance, but also make sure that some of these services are tailored to graduate students. Academically, I also aim to be more engaged with mentorship across campus, working with relevant staff in Graduate Studies to make sure that we are given the best mentorship possible and are prepared for life after graduation. The support systems that were granted during COVID must not be forgotten, and I will work to maintain some of these options going forward, as they have proven to be hugely beneficial for students. Beyond these things, I look forward to working with you all again and communicating with you and hearing what you need. This is my responsibility as a servant leader and representative for graduate students.
I have served in various capacities in the GSA since my first year as a graduate student, and as I look to graduate in the Spring of 2022, it would be an honor to serve once more as your President. I am extremely privileged to have garnered the support of graduate students across the university for the last few years and I am excited to move forward with you all.
Internal Vice President
I’ve been the GSA’s IVP for the past year and I believe I’ve done a fairly decent job at it. There were some difficulties, particularly around effectively communicating across all the departments and organizations that have requested graduate student representation on the various committees that exist. Doing it all a second time, however, should be a bit easier and a bit more efficient. Running GSA meetings has been fun enough and, probably more importantly, the meetings have been smooth and have regularly ended early, saving hundreds of person hours of time. Although I probably influenced the reduction of the meeting duration to some extent, I imagine it is mostly to do with the digital/remote nature of the GSA meetings (which the GSA will continue into the 2021/2022 year). One caveat to my nomination is that, once again, there’s the risk that I will graduate sometime during the 2021/2022 academic year, necessitating another small election and transfer of responsibilities, although this process is straightforward and not especially difficult or time consuming.
External Vice President
My name is Gwen Chodur and I am a fifth year PhD candidate in the Graduate Group of Nutritional Biology. I am honored to accept the nomination to continue as your Executive Vice-President of the Graduate Student Association for 2021-2022.
As your EVP, I have been directly responsible or highly involved in advocacy efforts that have improved the lives of graduate students on our campus, throughout the UC system, and at the national level. I will be serving as the President of the UC Graduate & Professional Council through June of this year and will continue my term as President & CEO of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students through December 2021. My work over the last year has largely focused on elevating issues faced by graduate students as a result of the pandemic and I have addressed members of Congress, the UC Regents, and administration throughout the UC and UC Davis specifically about the need for universal extensions of time to degree, NRST waivers, extensions of teaching limits, and increased funding to support career development.
My continued vision for the role of EVP is one of sustained advocacy at the city, system, state, and national level regarding issues that affect us as graduate students- issues which include basic needs security (food and housing security and mental wellness); proposed Title IX changes and ongoing discrimination related to sex and gender identities; and immigration challenges impacting our international and undocumented students.
I hope to have the opportunity to continue my service on behalf of graduate students at UC Davis in a fifth term as an officer of GSA. I am privileged to give voice to your concerns and I appreciate your vote and your confidence.
Huimin (Mia) Zhong
My name is Huimin (Mia) Zhong, a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Group of
Epidemiology, Designated Emphasis in International and Community Nutrition. I am
honored to be nominated to run for the position of Treasurer and look forward to the
opportunity to serve our society in new ways. My major objective in running for this
position is to ensure that our association has the financial resources needed to carry out
its mission and that these resources are well managed. I have two years of experience
overseeing budgets including the University’s student association funds. Additionally, I
have over six years of experience collaborating with faculty, students, administrators,
municipal and state entities. These past experiences are evidence of my ability to perform
the Treasurer’s duties, including record-keeping, tracking applications for
awards/funding, and communicating University policies and procedures for
I believe I have a number of valuable qualities I would bring to the position of Treasurer.
Below are highlights of my background relevant to this position.
● 1st year student representative in EGGs at University of California, Davis
● Served for two years as Finance minister of CSSA at University of Oregon
● Served for two years as President of RISA at Emory University
● Served as student ambassadors for both University of Oregon & Emory University
Finally, I have the energy and passion to serve the Graduate Student Association and
currently serving as alternative for Epidemiology graduate group. I believe I will be a
dedicated and effective treasurer. I look forward to doing this very important work on
your behalf for the next year. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any
questions or comments about my candidacy for this position, firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Courtney Pollard (she/her) and I am currently a 4th year Ph.D. Candidate in English. I am once again running for GSA secretary because I care about grad students’ well-being and I believe that effective communication about resources and opportunities is one key way to improve our lives as grad students and to connect with one another (especially this past year!). In my position as GSA Secretary, I answered emails in a timely manner, took detailed meeting minutes (I hope!), and put grads in touch with people and organizations that can help them with professional development. I have also advocated for grad students surrounding a variety of issues that have cropped up this past year, ranging from campus parking to navigating COVID-relate campus changes. One major project that I have taken on is increasing participation in the GSA. This past quarter, I reached out to students in grad groups that had little or no GSA participation and encouraged them to sign up as reps and attend meetings. I believe that greater participation across all grad groups will be more equitable and democratic; these groups will also now receive funding to support departmental-level events and resources and hear about campus-wide professional development and social events. Overall, there was a noticeable uptick in registered reps from these grad groups and some students who didn’t even know about the GSA are now aware that we exist and are here to serve grads in whatever way we can.
I believe my experience outside the GSA will also be useful in continuing to serve as Secretary. I have been the Vice Chair for the English GSA for two years. I’ve also spent some time as a Head Steward and chair of the Contract Enforcement Committee for our union. In this role, I helped grad students file grievances and advocated for them in conversations with the university’s labor relations department in order to protect fair pay, benefits, and working conditions for grad student workers. Overall, I am dedicated to promoting grad students’ needs and interests. Thanks for your consideration and I look forward to (hopefully) serving you next year!
Public Relations Organizing Director
In Fall 2021, I will be a sixth-year PhD candidate in the English Department, and the 2021-2022 academic year would mark my fifth year holding a leadership position with the GSA. Before serving as the PROD, I held the position of Assistant Events Coordinator for two years and my responsibilities included organizing and advertising quarterly events, such as Bar Nights and Farmer’s Market evenings Corn Maze, Bowling; managing GSA’s social media outlets; and providing pizza for the department representatives before GA meetings. As both Assistant Events Coordinator and the PROD, my goal has been to facilitate social environments in which graduate students from across the university’s diverse disciplines can come together, network, share ideas, and build relationships. In March 2020, when the university suspended in-person events, I along with the two current Assistant Events Coordinators, Allison Pullin and Joseph Vasinda, shifted GSA social events online. Together, we developed and implemented a Zoom trivia event that has been by far the most popular and well-attended GSA event since my tenure with the organization began. We did this with two aims in mind: first, to provide a virtually structed space for graduate students to connect and spend time with each other in a period when many of us were feeling isolated and disconnected from our community networks and, second, to distribute event funds, normally used for in-person events, to graduate students in the form of gift card prizes. Due to the success of Zoom trivia, I requested that the General Assembly expand the annual events’ budget by reallocating funds from the latent Coffee, Bagel, Donut Day (CBDD) account so that we might be able to distribute more unused funds back to graduate students through virtual raffles, contests, and trivia events. As we look to the Fall 2021 quarter, I am hoping that we will be able to return to in-person programming: this would mean that the revival of CBDD, Bar Nights, and Farmer’s Market evenings! In addition to coordinating and overseeing in-person programming for the next academic year, I would also like to continue to cultivate an active and thriving graduate student community through the promotion and distribution of our Student Activism fund (which may soon be rebranded as Community Outreach fund). I plan to further develop many of the marketing and advertising strategies I’ve initiated as PROD in order to achieve this end. I believe that alerting a larger audience to our project funding opportunities is the best way to ensure that we, as an organization, support and empower projects that we are truly proud of.