GOVERNANCE Madame President
Perhaps the most rewarding, challenging, and delightful experience of the past 5 years has been my involvement with the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) at Stony Brook University. In 2011, I was elected the Treasurer and held this position till 2013, when I was elected the President, the position I held till May 2015. Throughout the years, I raised over $500K in donations from the University administration, simplified various aspects of funding procedures, and, together with the rest of the GSO team, lobbied for students' needs. As the President, I involved more students in governance, expanding campus-wide services to graduate students and strengthening the organization by creating the Alumni network and finding alternative sources of funding.
It's a tough balance between research and leadership, however, being a Political Science researcher, I find it advantageous to see how book theories accurately predict the outcomes of real-world politics. The experience of being the President of student government in a public school is absolutely unique. In a way, the student government models the American politics. Authentic to US politics elements such as lobbying, interest groups, the system of checks and balances among others are all represented in student government at Stony Brook. There can hardly be a better place for me to master both - my research and leadership skills in a single institution.
If you haven't devoted any time to public service, you don't know how rewarding can volunteering experience be. Yes, it is time-consuming, intense and you probably will not see the immediate results, but isn't it worth it? In my experience, it is worth getting 3 hours of sleep and listening to students concerns for 20-40 hours a week when you see how much you help them either by cutting a reimbursement check early, enhancing their student facility, bringing a speaker they want, or just by giving valuable advice. In GSO, we are all there for each other! My Executive Committee are my coolest friends who are first on my guest list to a birthday party! In Spring 2014, the GSO celebrated its 35 year anniversary, and I felt blessed to have been the President who hosted parties, alumni events, and speaker series to mark this great accomplishment of graduate students!