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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Learn More about your GSC

Saturday, July 18, 2020
The 2020-2021 representatives have been chosen. Learn more about the GSC as they prepare for the coming year.

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) is an important part of student life at GSBS. In addition to advocating on behalf of students, GSC plans both social and community service events. They also raise money, via the popular Relays, for the Student Enrichment Fund, which provides grants for conference travel. In May of 2020, new representatives were chosen – remotely – for the 2020/2021 Academic Year. Each program has two representatives.

Mike Rist, the incoming Immunology representative, was chosen via an informal process rather than formal elections. “During a student meeting, one of our reps said they were stepping down and looking for someone to step in and take their place,” he said. “I sat in on a GSC Zoom meeting and got a general feeling for how things go.” Kate Sulka, outgoing co-Treasurer and Immunology representative, explained further. “The two current GSC reps and the new representative complete the year together, in order to have a smooth transition.”

Ashlee Junier, outgoing Vice President and Genetics representative, explained that her program’s representatives were chosen in a similar fashion. “[Genetics] doesn’t hold formal elections for the GSC rep positions; instead, the retiring GSC rep will talk to the students in lower years, and they will make a collaborative decision. The informal process works really well for our program.”

The process for electing new executives – President, Vice President, and Treasurer – is a little more involved. “For the executive positions,” Junier said, “current members are nominated by other GSC members. The entire GSC then votes on the nominations.” Sulka noted that “the selection process was conducted on a Zoom call this year,” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic also affected the transition to the new GSC. Usually, the new executives are announced at the Relays event in July. This year, however, the event was cancelled, so they were announced by email (“Still gratifying!” according to Sasha Smolgovsky, incoming Treasurer and Immunology representative). The changeover process will also be different: “The old officers will probably contribute for the next month or so, until the new officers step in; a change from the usual, where we would all be working on Relays this summer, and the results would be announced and the changeover take place right after the event,” said Smolgovsky.

Relays are a beloved annual event for GSBS students. While GSC members were, of course, disappointed not be able to hold the event, they’re looking forward to making next year’s Relays a success. “As part of the Relays committee, I was really looking forward to seeing it through and being a part of the process,” said Sadi Quinones, incoming President and Neuroscience representative. Jacob Klickstein, incoming Vice President and MD/PhD representative, agreed: “I am really excited to be on the Exec Board next year to help organize the 2021 Relays. I hope they will be the best yet!”

While COVID-19 has disrupted many elements of student life, including relays, the pandemic has also served as motivation. “I chose to be a part of GSC because I liked the idea of helping represent the program and speak about student concerns, to discuss issues specific to Immunology and learn about other programs,” said Smolgovsky. “This has been especially necessary this year, and it was incredibly helpful to be able to gather as a group to discuss the process of shutting down.”

Quinones shared a similar sentiment. “I originally wanted to join GSC because I realized how diverse each program was and recognized the important of representing our program’s unique culture,” he said. “My decision to stay another year as a GSC executive was due in part to the ongoing unpredictability of the pandemic and wanting to be part of the leadership that represents our students. I look forward to, during these upcoming months, seeing how we as a group can positively impact the Tufts community.”

Others stressed the importance of student life and the opportunity to connect with their fellow students. “Student engagement is a really important part of being in graduate school,” said Klickstein. “We are here to learn, and an important aspect of that is providing feedback on what is and isn’t working. I joined to help make Tufts the best learning environment possible for everyone.” Rist agreed, saying “It’s a great way to represent the student voice when it comes to make school wide decisions. I’m excited to work with fellow students.” Alyssa DiLeo, outgoing Neuroscience representative, echoed these sentiments: “I joined GSC to create a better experience for future graduate students.”

In addition to advocacy, improvements to the student experience, and guidance during the pandemic, GSC representatives like to plan events and have fun. “I like organizing things!” said Judi Hollander, outgoing co-Treasurer and CMDB representative. “GSC puts a lot of effort into events and apparel sales, and I like making sure those things happen.” Klickstein also mentioned apparel sales. “GSC organized the 2019/2020 swag sale for new sweatshirts, jackets and vests, featuring the student-made logo and new name of the school! I was really excited to get some gear to represent GSBS, and I love a good quarter zip.” Rist concurred, saying, “I’m excited to plan enjoyable activities for students.”

What all the GSC representatives have in common is their commitment to helping their fellow students have the best possible graduate experience and creating a fun, inclusive, and caring community. “I decided to join GSC because I wanted to become part of the GSBS community,” Sulka said. “It was the perfect way to meet people outside of my program and help boost student life. It has been a great experience for me, and I would highly recommend getting involved in GSC!”

2020-2021 Graduate Student Council

President: Sadi Quinones, Neuroscience

Vice President: Jacob Klickstein, Neuroscience and MD/PhD

Treasurer: Sasha Smolgovsky, Immunology

Program Representatives

CMDB: Alice Meng and Rachael Ryner

Genetics: Salwa Mostafa and Rebecca Brown

Immunology: Sasha Smolgovsky and Michael Rist

MD/PhD: Jacob Klickstein and Yoelkys Morales

Microbiology: Rich Lavin and Juan Hernandez-Bird

Neuroscience: Najah Walton and Sadi Quinones

PPET/PDD: Smaro Panagiotidou and Helia Mojahedyazdi