GSA Executive Elections Candidates

Voting will go live at 10am on 4/24 at this link:
Below you will find the list of candidates for the GSA Executive Election. The election will take place from 10am on 4/24 through 12pm on 4/26.



Candiate Statement

Danielle Bermudez, Interdisciplinary Humanities, PhD President
As a fourth year doctoral student, I am dedicated to advocating for graduate students at UC Merced and the UC-widely. I have also been involved as a graduate student representative on the Basic Needs Security Workgroup, Graduate Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women, and University of California Committee on Research Policy. I have also previously served as Academic Affairs Officer and External Vice President of GSA. In these leadership roles, I appointed graduate students to university committees for better access and representation, assisted students with academic grievances across all disciplines, acted as a member of the GSA Constitution and Bylaws Committee, and served on the UC Student Association Board of Directors as Chair of the Graduate and Professional Committee.  In this role, I advocated on a local and system-wide level about a diverse range of graduate student issues, such as secure funding, healthy mentorship, food and housing, and overall campus climate - to university administration, the UC Board of Regents, the UC Office of the President, and elected officials. If elected as President, my experiences will help me continue this important advocacy by creating and facilitating an effective, accessible, and welcoming space at GSA meetings, by respecting and valuing everyone’s voice, and by maintaining a productive working environment. I will focus on increasing transparency and accountability of the Association, by making processes more democratic. As our graduate student population grows, my aim is to increase collaboration between graduate groups and build community by creating diverse spaces to promote healthy dialogue and cooperation for all.
Sabah Ul-Hasan,
Quantitative & Systems Biology PhD
As a 3rd year graduate student, I have felt more welcomed and respected at UC Merced than any other academic institution or organization I've been affiliated with, but there is still much to be improved. I would like to graduate from this university feeling proud of not only my accomplishments but those made by all of my peers as well. That we each leave this institution contributing something more positive than what existed before. I would like to foster such a culture amongst our graduate student body by serving as the GSA Executive Council President, facilitating truly inclusive discussions within and outside of the Executive Council to address the needs of our growing graduate student body.
Some of those needs include (1) surveys sent each semester to democratically identify and prioritize direction, (2) consistently and concisely update everyone on GSA accomplishments each month, (3) develop a working document tending to encountered conflicts in a timely fashion, (4) create a source of revenue for student scholarships and GSA support, (5) regularly host social events throughout the academic year, (6) strengthen resource access for international students, (7) frequently host professionally-mediated diversity workshops to demonstrate the significance of inclusion, (8) and deepen our administrative and company connections for job preparation post-graduation for ultimately creating safe and informed spaces which foster a productive completion of our studies as a student body. 
Some qualifying leadership examples interspersed between the years of 2007 to present are: Salt Lake City Council Member, Housing Manager for international students & women in science, Recycling Program Director, Social Justice Scholar, Muslim Student Association President, QSB Seminar Coordinator, Science Mentor and Advocate, and Inclusion Luncheon Coordinator for 300 at a research conference. 
I look forward to working together in becoming proud UC Merced alumni.
Breanna Brock, Sociology PhD Internal Vice President Hello, my name is Breanna Brock and I will be attending UC Merced this fall as a first-year sociology PhD student. Coming from across the country I hope to plant my roots early on in the UC Merced community. Having experience with executive board positions and delegations of duties in the past with organizations like Rutgers Student Health Services and Student Volunteer Council I feel as though my experience and new perceptive would be an asset to the Graduate Student Association. Aside from being open-minded and well organized, I find my strong suit to be effective group communication. During my first year at UC Merced, I would like to continue the habits I’ve created in undergrad of being involved with the campus community to work towards bridging the gap between campus faculty and students. My goal would be to create a climate that fosters education while also supporting our needs as students. Transparency, dedication, and support are what I promise to provide my peers with through the position of Internal Vice President.  Thank you for your consideration!
Kyle Hamilton, Psychological Sciences, PhD Internal Vice President My name is W. Kyle Hamilton and I am a second year PhD student in the Psychological Sciences group.  With the 2020 project underway, we are at a critical point as a graduate community. One of the most important things we can do is fill open campus committee vacancies. As these resources come online, we need voices on campus telling the administration about the needs of the graduate community. For too long these appointments have gone unfilled and as a result, our needs are not always being addressed. One of my goals for our campus is to ensure that our voices are heard and that changes are made in an open and transparent manner. As IVP I promise to serve all students equally, enforce the rules without prejudice, and to help create a better campus environment for all of us.
Maria De Jesus M. Mora, Sociology PhD
Internal Vice President
Hi all! My name is Maria De Jesus and I’ve been at UC Merced for almost seven years, as both an undergraduate and now a graduate student. I would humbly like to serve as your next GSA Internal Vice President. I believe I have a lot of knowledge, resources and leadership experience to bring to the Graduate Student Association. As an undergraduate, I served as Co-Chair of Hermanas Unidas, in which I led a steering team of 14 officers and around 70 members, I was Publicity Director for American Women Making a Difference, Historian for Latino Associated Students and volunteered as part of the UCPD Peer Mentor Program, with great knowledge about our growing campus community. As a graduate student, I have been part of the External Vice President Advisory Board as the Graduate Representation Officer, and am currently a member of new graduate student organizations, such as the Latinx Graduate Student Association in which I serve as the Secretary and I also served as a graduate student representative on the Basic Needs Security Workgroup this past year. I want to be a part of GSA because the main duty of the Internal Vice President is to facilitate the Delegate Assembly, and to hold regular meetings to discuss various issues impacting graduate students at UC Merced. For several semesters we have not had a complete or fully functioning Delegate Assembly, and I will work hard to make sure we have a full and representative D.A. that includes and seeks input from all graduate groups, where everyone’s voices can be heard. GSA cannot function without all graduate students and all graduate groups should have a voice in discussions, as we all pay fees to our student government, and it’s critical for the Delegate Assembly to be active, accessible, and transparent throughout the academic year, and it is important to set it up for success for future years. I hope you all consider me as your next GSA Internal Vice President, and I look forward to working with you all. Thank you!
Christina Acosta, Sociology PhD External Vice President
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
                  Throughout my education, I have been drawn to leadership positions where I could work with others in order to improve our campus communities. From 6th-12th grade, I was a conflict manager/peer counselor and as an undergraduate, I was involved in the Chicana/o Studies student Alliance at California State University, Fullerton. My first year at UC Merced has been eventful so far, and I am currently the Treasurer of the Latinx Graduate Student Association, the Social media chair of the Sociology Graduate Student Committee, and the Graduate Student Ambassador for the Blum Center’s Student Advocates for Creating Equity and Eliminating Poverty Initiatives. As External Vice President of the Graduate Student Association, I would be able to continue doing what I am passionate about; working within a large community and cooperatively making progress on issues that face graduate students as well as undergraduates at the University of California, Merced. Meeting students from other campuses could provide me with a broader perspective as well as fresh ideas that GSA could implement on campus to improve our community. Drawing from the knowledge I have gained being involved in so many community organizations, it would be an honor to share what I know with GSA as EVP and to learn even more from fellow students. As the quote I opened with suggests, I have confidence in the power that a passionate group of graduate students can have on campus, and I sincerely hope I am given the opportunity to be a part of next year’s Graduate Student Assosciation as External Vice President.
Jose Luis Susa Rincon, EECS PhD External Vice President
I am a third-year EECS student and I want to be part of the GSA to change it for good of all the graduate students. In the past, the GSA lost confidence from internal and external entities, students and other organizations lost faith in the UC Merced GSA. It is time to claim back the leadership and together with the other delegates bring stability and strength to the group. If you are tired of the DRAMA and not having Free Speech it is time to choose new leaders! Let’s stop together the decline of our GSA and let’s fight for a new future that will serve everyone. As an external Vice-president, I want to take everything that we will do in UCM Merced and show it to the UC System, also bring the best and most successful policies created in other campuses to help our graduate students and fulfill their needs. Please take a moment to vote, you will not vote only for a person but for the hundreds of students that form the graduate students group.
Leslie Anderson, Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD Treasurer
As I complete my first year as a UC Merced graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Humanities program I feel equipped to offer my skills and time to serve UC Merced’s graduate student population. Throughout my undergraduate career, I held leadership positions in my social organization and am excited to continue a similar line of service. Prior to attending UC Merced I was an office manager in the construction and development industry. As such, I have experience overseeing and helping manage budgets as well as managing purchasing and reporting. Furthermore, I believe that my knowledge of the construction industry will be a great asset to the GSA Executive Council at this time of vital growth under the 2020 project. I graciously accept my nomination and look forward to serving my fellow graduate students as Treasurer.
Nicolas Dove, Evironmental Systems PhD Treasurer

I am a third year ES student and currently the incumbent GSA Treasurer. Although GSA had a rough past year, I am proud to say that we still accomplished many things. As Treasurer I realized we had more money than we were currently spending. Therefore, I developed a budget that doubled our Travel Awards from 12 to 24 per year, for the first time supported 7 graduate student organizations, and for the first time sponsored 3 graduate student-led events. However, with many successes, new challenges emerge. Graduate student organizations doubled last year, and I predict they will continue to increase. To support new organizations, we will have to develop new streams of revenue. Nobody wants an increase in student fees, so I am currently (and will continue, if elected) to work with Office of Student Life to purchase a food truck that student organizations (including grad student organizations) can use for fundraisers. I am also interested in investigating other streams of revenue. Like this previous year, my funding priorities revolve around an inclusive campus climate and mental health. Thank you for your vote.

Melissa Quesda, Sociology, PhD Treasurer
Since I was little, I loved serving and helping people and have made it my mission to continue supporting my community as long as I live. Throughout my education, I’ve had the privilege for being a part of many leadership positions, that have allowed me to flourish and grow as an individual.  As an undergraduate, I was the Vice President of the Fresno State Food Recovery Network, where I assisted in the coordination of the club. My Minor in Philanthropic and Community-based Leadership, I was able to work with many Community Benefit Organizations (non-profit organizations) and gain insight on the responsibilities and duties a Board of Directors has. Through this minor, I learned how to do organizational assessments, as well as financial literacy.  For my local church, I’ve been the treasurer for the past two years. In this position I have overseen budget and financial situations and have written financial reports.  I am a firm believer in transparency and accountability. I hope to continue being a part of leadership in my graduate journey at UC Merced.
Jazmine Kenny, Public Health, PhD Public Relations & Community Outreach Officer
During my short time as the GSA Public Relations/Community Outreach Officer, I have taken many active steps toward building positive relations with administration and campus organizations. I have worked very closely with the Graduate Division to ensure graduate events have gone smoothly, worked to include more graduate student events, and brought novel ideas to the table. As mentioned previously, I have worked for a variety of organizations as Alumni Relations Outreach, event planning, and program organizing. I also worked for two non-profit organizations, working to build relations with the community. Last fall, I became a graduate student representative involved in UC Merced’s Student Health Advocacy Committee, working to make UC SHIP more transparent, ensuring students have access to care, and encouraging health prioritization.
I believe having good Public Relations is an extremely crucial part of having a healthy and thriving graduate community. I would consider myself diplomatic, and willing to listen to everyone’s opinions, while working toward compromise on difficult and controversial issues.
I have gotten to know the inner workings of GSA, have seen ways to improve it, and want to strive to make it work at its fullest potential. I would love the opportunity to have this position for the entirety of the academic year to really make a meaningful impact on the UC Merced graduate community. Thank you for your consideration!
Cinthia Quesada, Sociology PhD Public Relations & Community Outreach Officer

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” - Audre Lorde
I am a firm believer in providing the tools to empower communities through an asset-based approach. This incorporates what is present in the community and the capacity of its members. It does not center on what is absent, rather acknowledges the strength of the community. I have served in different capacities, on campus and through community organizations, including positions as president, secretary, and webmaster. My minor as an undergraduate in philanthropic and community-based leadership at California State University, Fresno has given me the opportunity to collaborate with several non-profit organizations, in the Central Valley. This training has prepared me with insight into board governance, networking, marketing and branding, community outreach, and advocacy. As a sub-consultant for a community benefit organization, I helped recruit volunteers for a community project called Partnerships to Improve Community Health. Not only do I hope to serve my fellow peers as the PR & Community Outreach Officer, but I believe I can bring experience, skills, and a perspective that would make a difference for UC Merced.
Katherine Skurik, Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD Public Relations & Community Outreach Officer Even though I am new to UC Merced, I am running for the Public Relations/Community Outreach Officer, because of my prior experience in community involvement on and off campus. During undergraduate studies, I was a senator in the Student Government Association. I was also involved in assisting students with disabilities and know American Sign Language. Off campus, I’ve been active with several organizations that are involved in fighting for equality in several perspectives. Back in Florida, I was active with the Center For Inquiry, in promoting science and separation of church and state. More recently, upon my relocation to Louisiana, I noticed the number of issues that women had to deal with there, and therefore initiated the started the Baton Rouge chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW). That chapter was proactive in advocating for women’s rights in the Louisiana state legislature. The issues included, but were not limited to, equal pay for women, abortion access, and support for the LGBT community. As GSA Public Relations/Community Outreach Officer, I will work with all graduate students at UC Merced to connect with our local community, engage in social activities, and inform students of various issues that may affect them in Merced. Thank you for your vote.
Vicente Mata, Sociology PhD Climate, Diversity, & Equity Officer
My educational journey is a thread woven into a larger narrative of the educational pipeline. Being a Latino man from a low-socioeconomic background, the thought of higher education seemed far-fetched. Through my educational experiences my ethnic identity and gender played an intricate role in establishing what kind of access and resources were allotted to me. I currently immerse myself into organizations that promote diversity, fight for equity, and create a safe campus climate for underrepresented students. As part of Hermanos Unidos, Educational Partnerships, and the McNair Scholars Program, I collaborate with various organizations on campus and create programs that focus on serving the interests of underrepresented students promoting a positive campus climate and increasing the retention of students of color in higher education (i.e. Male Youth Empowerment Conference).
As a first-year UC Merced graduate student, I want to continue my involvement with creating equitable and safe spaces for all underrepresented. As your Climate, Diversity, and Equity Officer, I want to bring my knowledge, resilience, and social justice frame to the campus to implement and create similar programs that promote the success of underrepresented students. This will give me the opportunity to collaborate with social justice programs and ultimately create an inclusive campus climate that provides underrepresented students forums and safe spaces to be heard on issues facing the community. In addition, I want foster a campus climate that embraces a social justice framework, bringing together our diverse communities and continuing to promote equality and equity.

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” 
                ― Bell Hooks

Tashelle Wright, Public Health PhD Climate, Diversity, & Equity Officer
As a doctoral student coming from out-of-state, I would greatly enjoy the opportunity to become more involved on campus and make an impact while being here at UC Merced. I am currently a member of the Graduate Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity (GDACD) and representing graduate students, especially students of color, is important to me.
Throughout my undergraduate and graduate experience I have been involved on campus and in the community. I have served on several committees and held a variety of leadership positions, specifically in organizations associated with diversity, inclusion and working with first-generation, underrepresented and undocumented students.
In addition, I have collaborated with faculty and staff in efforts to increase diverse representation in Utah colleges. Since 2011, I have been involved with the Black Student Union and Latinos in Actions clubs at both Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) and Westminster College. As a McNair Scholar, I mentored students of color about obtaining an undergraduate education and preparation for graduate school. Westminster, being a predominantly white institution (PWI), I had the opportunity to serve as the student representative on the Retention Committee. As part of this committee we discussed factors effecting retention from a student perspective and contribute ideas for more successful retention efforts, related to diversity, campus climate, institution support and faculty/student interactions.
As the current Climate, Diversity, and Equity Officer on GSA, I want to continue to share my experience, ideas and a fresh perspective.
I appreciate your consideration for this opportunity.
Katie Butterfield, Sociology PhD Internal Communications Officer
My broad range of experiences at UCM make me an ideal choice to serve as your Internal Communications Officer. As a UCM graduate student, I've had the opportunity to participate in GSA as both the Delegate Assembly member from the Sociology program and as the Academic Affairs Officer. My experiences on GSA and campus committees including the Committee for Academic Planning and Resource Allocation, the Healthy Campus Network Working Group, and the Sociology Graduate Student Committee have prepared me to continue advocating for graduate students on the GSA Executive Board this coming year. While working in UCM administration prior to graduate school, I substantially strengthened my knowledge of campus functioning and resources. While completing my undergraduate career, also here at UCM, I helped to develop several undergraduate clubs and participated in student government.
If elected as your Internal Communications Officer, I will improve graduate student access to information from GSA and other important campus departments, and ensure that all voices are welcomed and considered by the GSA Executive Board as decisions are made. As the Academic Affairs Officer, I advocated for improvements to GSA's website and transparent documentation practices; I will continue to do so as the Communications Officer. The connections and working knowledge of our campus I have developed through my experiences here at UCM will act as my base for building graduate student access to important campus information; they are what make me and effective leader for the GSA Executive Board. Graduate student participation in GSA and other campus functions is important, but an open line of communication and information from the GSA Executive Board and easy access to campus resources, both of which I will advocate for as the Internal Communications Officer, is critical to student participation.
Lorraine Ramos, Interdisciplinary Humanities, PhD Internal Communications Officer
¡Hola! I am Lorraine Ramos, a soon to be second year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Humanities.  I have been nominated for the position of Internal Communications Officer and am excited to serve our graduate student body.  As a sociolinguist, proficient in Spanish and English, I want to give GSA not only a multicultural voice, but a multilingual one as well.  In the name of inclusion and transparency, I believe creating a graduate student space includes other languages and cultural identities.  I feel I can represent this group, finally giving access to those underrepresented groups. 
Hi! Yo soy Lorraine Ramos y estoy a punto de ser una estudiante de segundo año en el programa del doctorado en las Humanidades Interdisciplinarias.  Me han nominado para la posición de la Oficial de Comunicaciones Internas y estoy emocionada para servir a nuestro grupo estudiantil graduado.  Como una sociolingüista proficiente en español e inglés, quiero dar al GSA un voz multicultural y multilingüe.  En el nombre de la inclusión y la transparencia, creo en crear un espacio para la población graduada que incluye otros idiomas e identidades culturales.  Yo siento que puedo ser un representante para el grupo, finalmente facilitando acceso a estos grupos insuficientemente representados.
Aditya Ranganath, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, M.A International Affairs Officer

My name is Aditya Ranganath and I am currently enrolled and actively pursuing a Masters Degree in Computer Science. Over the year that I have been here, I have been welcomed as one’s own family in this campus. I have been constantly encouraged to seek knowledge for the sake of a better and brighter tomorrow.

Being in a university with an immensely diverse graduate student populous, there is a need for an International Relations Officer. Being an international student, I understand the struggles of being in a foreign country and learning to adapt to a completely new environment. I solemnly swear to serve one and all from any/every country/caste/religion/faith and vow to make information available at times of need. I shall be as transparent as possible in making decisions and develop a platform for one and all to express their opinion. I believe in my peers, for they have been pillars support in my endeavours and I hope I can extend the same gratitude in return.

Daniel Rios, Interdisciplinary Humanities, PhD Academic Affairs Officer
During my graduate career at UC Merced, I have passionately invested my time in advocating for issues that affect the graduate student body as a whole, which has influenced my decision to reapply for the position of Academic Affairs Officer. These experiences include the past Advisor on Climate, Diversity, and Equity for GSA and a current member on the Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion (CCCI). These leadership positions have illustrated to me the issues that impact our graduate community such as, among others, guaranteeing graduate student representation in academic committees across campus, the allocation of funding for travel and research, addressing campus climate issues, and ensuring adequate mentorship among advisors and advisees. I believe it is important to maintain unity among graduate students and establish a democratic dialogue in order to find solutions to the various issues, concerns, and ambitions of the entire graduate community at UC Merced. Therefore, if given this opportunity to be the Academic Affairs Officer for GSA, I will work diligently to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness and collaboration, establish accessibility and transparency, and will professionally fulfill my obligations for this officer position by any means necessary.
Ashley Valle Arevalo, Quantitative and Systems Biology, PhD Academic Affairs Officer
Who am I? My name is Ashley Valle Arevalo. I started my journey at UC Merced in 2009 as an undergraduate student majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Now, I am a second-year graduate student in the Quantitative and Systems Biology program. I enjoy and value dialogue, especially, if I am in a position to serve as a medium to voice and respond to the issues being expressed. 
Why am I interested? I believe I have good communication and skills to be a valuable resource for the Academic Affairs position. This is a great opportunity to fully leverage my diverse experiences and do it to serve my colleagues by being a part of a committee that works to solve issues relevant to graduate student academics. Our campus is growing. Now more than ever, we need to be flexible and adaptable to a changing environment. I want to take a leadership role in the GSA during this crucial time and ensure we and the students being represented are aligned on important issues.
If appointed: If appointed as the Academic Affairs Officer, I plan to serve as a representative for student-related academic planning, assist in academic grievances, and most importantly work closely with everyone in the GSA, students, and the Deans of UCM to make sure the voices of graduate and professional students are heard and taken into action.