2018 Election Candidates2018-03-26T11:59:36+00:00

2018 Election Candidates

Candidate(s) for Secretary

Maria Tauala
Maria Tauala

How do you envision connecting with, and helping GSO grad students connect with the greater university community, Honolulu and Hawaii?

MT: At an interpersonal level, I see GSO grad students as our connection to the community and to the rest of the islands. By that I mean, grad students aren’t just students. They’re parents, activists, full time employees, creatives, friends, family and residents of, if not native to these islands. They have passions and motivations beyond our organization. In supporting those, we’re not only supporting ourselves, but the community and the land around us. Oddly enough, I realized the value of this way of connecting and knowing from going on a hike with friends this weekend. Along the way they pointed out native plants and their uses, as well as hiking practices which help to preserve the land we are on. I learned a lot and felt more connected to the land I was on, just by seeing my friends in a new setting, and getting to be on the receiving end of the knowledge they were willing to share. GSO grad students do work that extends far beyond the organization and the university. For me, connection to communities outside of the GSO can stem directly from supporting the work of those students, and creating a culture of inquiry with the GSO around our individual motivations and connections.

What motivated you to run for an executive position within the GSO?

MT: This GSO’s values, particularly of equity, service and community are values that motivate me personally as well as in my graduate study of higher education administration. My personal vision for student support and advocacy is holistic. I understand that in order to support graduate students, we have to support them as whole people, and I believe the GSO’s work aligns with that personal philosophy. I was motivated to run for Secretary in particular, because I feel the role plays to my strengths in organization and attention to detail as well as my desire to learn more about UH structure, and our students’ needs. Ultimately the position is one that will be mutually beneficial, as I truly believe the skills and experience I have in similar positions will benefit the organization. At the same time, it will be a rewarding experience for me to be able to help students from within an organization with values that align with my own.

Candidate(s) for Treasurer

Mark Willingham
Mark Willingham

How do you envision connecting with, and helping GSO/grad students connect with the greater university community, Honolulu, and Hawaii?

MW: I believe that GSO has numerous opportunities to help connect graduate students within the greater university and Honolulu community. Because of connections and relationships built by previous GSO elected positions, the upcoming GSO elected officials have the opportunity to further these relationships with the community, as well as work to establish new ones with university, political, and other organizations within the Honolulu community. I have witnessed previous GSO elected officials discuss the numerous meetings, talks, and other presentations by important officials, and I feel that better communication with the graduate student body would allow others to take advantage of these resources and relationships GSO has created in the past. This would also serve to better equip GSO members and the larger graduate student body with opportunities to create lasting relationships and connections with those who may serve to further their academic and research careers.

What do you see as the major challenges to graduate student success at UH Manoa, and how can GSO address these?

MW: I believe that graduate students are in a very unique position within the greater university body. Graduate students work with professors and researchers in close relationships, as well as mentor, teach, and instruct undergraduate students. Because of this, graduate students often feel a pull between both student and academic professionalism, which can often be in conflict with one another. I believe that GSO has the potential to help bridge that gap with the existing relationships with the different university departments. By providing students the tools to navigate their academic, mentoring, and research skills, GSO can greatly influence the experiences graduate students have while attending the university.

The Treasurer is responsible for all financial matters of GSO. Please describe your experience managing funds and keeping track of such records.

MW: Before my jump into graduate school, academics, and research, I worked for a major banking institution for over 8 years. During that time, I worked both on the teller and banker side, meaning I was responsible for large deposits, existing banking account records, as well as confidential banking audit materials. Because of my time within banking, I have a great deal of experience with complicated and confidential financial matters, accounts, and general ledgers. I was also responsible for meeting with clients and working with them on account tracking, which often involved creating account and financial tracking sheets to better assist them in their banking needs. I feel as though my time working with a national bank provided me the traits for a treasurer position with GSO.

Candidate(s) for Vice-President

Daniel Flores
Daniel Flores

What do you see as the top graduate student and GSO priorities for the 2017-2018 academic year, and how do you propose to address these as a GSO officer?

DF: Changing graduate wages so it is enough to live off of is our top priority.  We do this through organization of graduate students.  Our motto should be, “Give us a union or we will make you wish you had.”  Fortunately for us this is an election year and for the most part senators and representative have agreed with us, with the exception of state senators Gil Riviere and Glenn Wakai.  I’m extremely optimistic we can do this if we organize.  Graduate students could be a powerful  force that the university and the state government will have to address.  Our demands are not unreasonable and the work we do here is essential to the daily operations of this university.  

What are the areas GSO could improve on as an organization, and how might you help implement such improvements?

DF: As Vice President I will strive for meetings that are no less than one hour.  We need only hit the wave tops and address the things that can’t be emailed or must be decided at that moment.  Officers and chairs report under a half hour and the color groups address grants and awards during their half hour.  I think this is obtainable if we stay in contact with each other and our constituents throughout the week.  Why address something in a meeting if it can’t be handled in an email?  All of our detailed reports should be available online for transparency.  I think the length of our meeting gives students reserve about joining and participating in GSO.  In general I guess I would like GSO to reach out more of their constituents.

Candidate(s) for President

Syed Khan
Syed Khan

What do you see as the top graduate student and GSO priorities for the 2017-2018 academic year, and how do you propose to address these as a GSO officer?

SK: Since Graduate students must prepare for leadership roles appropriate for the 21st century, in my opinion – the most important task and top priority of GSO should be preparing our graduate students for state-of-the-art research, attainment through creativity, and to be part of the economic progress.

What do you see as the major challenges to graduate student success at UH Manoa, and how can GSO address these?

SK: Too much to do, in too little time. The knowledge base is important. We can make key information and knowledge sources readily available for them to save time and energy. I want them to lead a more healthy lifestyle, yet complete their graduate works more effectively.

How do you envision connecting with, and helping GSO/grad students connect with the greater university community, Honolulu, and Hawaii?

SK: More activities related to one’s one field can enable her or him with the rest of the community as well as will provide with a vital opportunity to grow by sharing. For example, a fine arts student should have the opportunity to display her creative works to the community to remain connected or a plant science student should be able to share her latest discovery from nature. The community, too, in turn, will get the opportunity to appreciate the great works and creativity of our graduate students. Our UH Manoa graduate students possess some of the brightest minds.

What one issue is most important to you, and what do you think you can do to have a positive impact on this issue?

SK: I think we should give our students better access to information and resources to complete course-work and research. By that, I do not mean we lack anything. But more efficient ways to help them prepare for leadership roles are still possible to improvise and we should strive to find those ways and implement. Our students will lead the nation and the world.

Jonathan Valdez
Jonathan Valdez

What motivated you to run for an executive position within the GSO?

JV: The person who nominated me for GSO President reminded me that I had told the General Assembly the local phrase “No vote, no grumble. Run for something.” I am a firm believer in “being the change we wish to see,” and I want to bring this to GSO. I’m motivated because I hear about a lot of things that need to be worked on by graduate students I live with at the East-West Center. Since we spend a lot of our time thinking through ideas, I’m sure a lot of graduate students at UH Mānoa have great observations and recommendations on what to do. I’m motivated to run because I want graduate student voices to be heard and taken seriously on our campus and I’m willing to listen to their ideas and bring them to light.

What do you see as the top graduate student and GSO priorities for the 2017-2018 academic year, and how do you propose to address these as a GSO officer?

JV:

  1. Mental health of graduate students: A. Work with university administrators, staff, and graduate students to address the particular mental health needs of graduate students. B. Co-organize one mental health wellness event a semester. Like therapy dogs, I love therapy dogs!
  2. Graduate Student Unionization: A. Continue to support the efforts of Academic Labor United to get legislation passed to form a graduate assistant labor union. B. Interface with other GSO-like organizations with active labor unions to learn how other universities’ graduate students formed their labor unions and GSO the kind of labor it will take to maintain a healthy labor union
  3. UH Mānoa Campus Reorganization: With the first draft proposal of the UH Mānoa campus reformation due to be released, graduate students need to be aware of what kind of changes that will be happening. I think graduate student input is integral for forthcoming drafts of the Reorganization proposal and I want to collect graduate student’s critique and input and make sure that university administrators take graduate student input seriously.

What are your plans to connect with and engage the graduate student community that GSO represents? (especially given these seats are uncontested)

JV:

  1. Make the monthly General Assembly agenda and minutes public and live on Google Docs. I think if GSO representatives are able to know what’s going to happen in the meetings they can better get input from their constituents or ask more informed questions. It will be bound to the Hawaii.edu email addresses so that folks can be secure.
  2. Be more tech savvy – push for social media. I’m no Jon Legere but I have no problem putting myself up for some online discussions on Facebook Live.
  3. Visit departments with graduate students and talk to folks.  It’s one thing to email graduate students to let them know about events or get their input. It’s another thing to actually sit down with folks in their department space. At least once a month, I’d like to visit a department and talk story with folks. For instance, graduate students at JABSOM may not be able to make events like Coffee Hour. I’d like to see what JABSOM is like and hear what our graduate students need over there. I’m a self-trained cook, baker, homebrewer, winemaker, and bartender. I’d love to share some home-baked goodies with you all.

How do you envision connecting with, and helping GSO/grad students connect with the greater university community, Honolulu, and Hawaii?

JV: In the current political climate, a lot of people think academics are disconnected from reality. Seeing how much our graduate students are on the frontlines of discovery, community engagement, and activism we need to highlight all of the amazing work UH Mānoa graduate students do. I would like to lead a “Humans of UH Manoa-GSO” to feature the many experiences and contributions of our fellow graduate students.

What do you see as major opportunities for graduate students and the GSO in the coming year?  Please describe how you can contribute to capitalizing on these.

JV: In the midst of the UH Mānoa campus reorganization, there is a need for student input and voices. I want to ensure that university committees are able to seat graduate students so that they can voice their concerns and recommendations. As graduate students who conduct research and teach undergraduates on behalf of the university, I think we are entitled to contribute input and criticism to the governance and forthcoming vision of UH Mānoa. I hope to host a World Café format roundtable on a couple of issues as GSO President, this being one of them. I think graduate students can push out some amazing ideas in an hour’s time. I hope the conversations started in the World Café continue to foster is continuing conversations and producing actionable ideas or policies in the future.

President: What one issue is most important to you, and what do you think you can do to have a positive impact on this issue?

JV: One issue that is important to me is mental health. I’ve hit moments of extreme anxiety and stress over different aspects of the graduate student journey and I’ve seen friends fight through their own battles as they progress through their graduate degree program. As GSO President, I want to be an advocate for legislation that will expand the mental health service needs for graduate students. I think we have a wonderful set of counselors here, but they are overwhelmed with the number of students who need services. A positive impact I want to make is to lay the foundation for pushing a bill into the Hawaii State Legislation. I want to bring as many stakeholders (faculty/staff, undergraduate, state legislators, graduate students) into the conversation to make sure that we address the mental health needs and concerns of UH Mānoa graduate students.