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Graduate Student Council Springs Forth

Lynn Jenkins, Esq.

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As the Winter Trimester at UNH trudges on, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) under the skillful past leadership of Amanda Ruzicka

Amanda Ruzicka , former GSC President Photograph BY LYNN JENKINS

springs forth. Amanda and the Executive Board of the GSC just completed their one-year term of service to the graduate student community.

When Amanda assumed the office as the president of GSC in March of 2011, the council was disordered and disorganized. The GSC faculty adviser of several years standing had left the university, creating a void difficult to fill. Thus, GSC was in a state of confusion, resulting in the question of whether the primary graduate school organization could deliver on its promise to provide the cultural, social, and educational spirit so necessary for a successful higher education experience. This question was answered most positively and with utmost achievement.

With the dedicated and dogged assistance of her Executive Board (fondly known by her as “her E Board”) as well as the support of faculty advisers, Milva McGhee and Christine Zuchinsky, Amanda was able to plan and to execute an exciting succession of successful social and scholastic events starting with the GradBash Orientation of 2011 and concluding with a weekend ski trip to Mount Snow in Vermont in 2012. Between, there was a year crammed with a Mohegan Sun outing, a Halloween trip to Lake Compounce, and a day tour to Boston. Community and public service events included food drives and health walks and volunteer services to the Habitat for Humanity. Nor were the future employment needs of the graduate student body neglected. There were several career seminars focused on job searches, interview skills, resume building, and occupational opportunities. All of these activities were communicated to the graduate student constituency through frequent emails, biweekly meetings, issuance of agendas, minutes, and newsletters, and a completely revised and revamped website (which can be found at www.newhaven.edu/student-life/10721/) and through the creation of a Facebook page (which can be found at www.facebook.com/groups/20051501640/).

Amanda, who is a second year grad student, is completing her master’s degree in community psychology. She will be graduating in May and is scheduled to speak at the commencement ceremony then. Her chosen theme centers on achievements and the influences that others have on attaining those achievements. She candidly admits that, while her achievements are her own, she didn’t attain them – as an undergraduate and as a grad student and as the president of the GSC – alone. It was an explicit recognition of the influences of her parents, her family and friends, and of the support and guidance of the UNH faculty, staff, and her Executive Board.

To ensure that the succeeding president and the next GSC Executive Board does not face the organizational challenges that she did, Amanda used the knowledge obtained in her course of study, especially her concentration in program development, to prepare a thirty-six page handbook for them. The handbook was designed to encourage continuity, empowerment, and team building, and to ease the transition of authority. In addition to preparing the handbook, Amanda oversaw several meetings between the old and new boards in both formal and social settings. The handbook and those meetings will support the implementation of the amendments to the GSC constitution – amendments that were proposed during her administration.

Gracious as always, Amanda thanked her executive board for their assistance and for making her term as president so successful. The members of the board for the 2011-2012 year included: Ahmed Abdulaal (Vice-President), Katie Surma (Executive Assistant), Sarah Mirza (Treasurer), Ryan Shapiro (Sergeant at Arms), Dan Kent (Community Service Chair), Cynthia Wu and Amy Li (Event Coordinators), and Jeanne Messerschmitt (Professional Development).

Amanda returns to her hometown of Yorktown Heights in New York State. She reluctantly bids farewell to her fellow grad students to begin her job search for a community-based position helping youths from all walks of life to empower themselves. She leaves us with one piece of advice – both insightful and significant: “This is your experience. Make it the best that it can be.”

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Graduate Student Council Springs Forth