GSA Special Elections Candidates

GSA Election is live:

Below you will find the candidates for the open positions in the GSA Special Election:

The election will take place on Catlife (

Voting will take place from 10am on January 23rd until 10am on January 25th.

Results will be released by 5pm on January 25th.

If you have any questions or concerns about the special GSA election please contact Steve Lerer, Associate Director for Student Life at or 209-228-4228. You can also stop by the ASUCM Office (KL 167) to speak with Steve directly.

Name and Program Position Statement
Katie L. Butterfield, Sociology PhD President As a third-year graduate student, I've had the opportunity to participate in GSA as both the Delegate Assembly member from the Sociology program (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016) and as the Academic Affairs Officer (Fall 2016). Through these and my experience as a graduate student at UCM, I have come to realize that the GSA Executive Council is in need of more organization and transparency for all graduate students at UCM. As the Academic Affairs Officer last semester, I advocated for improvements to GSAs website and transparent documentation practices. If elected, I will focus on organization and transparency through continuing to update the GSA website and build up more transparent documentation practices for the Executive Council, and through striving to ensure that all voices are welcome and considered by the Executive Council as decisions are made. Graduate student participation in GSA is important, but an open line of communication and information from the GSA Executive Council is critical to student participation.
Maryam T. Crogman, Developmental Psychology PhD President I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology. I plan on spending this year working hard for you and build a community among graduate students that is as inclusive as we all can make it when we decide to work together for the greater good. When I commit, I do it 100%!

 I am dedicated to improving the quality of life and education for graduate students, because I am one, I have seen the challenges, and I know what I need to feel great in my institution.

 I bring the necessary skillsets in event planning, budgeting, organization, and communication for leading the GSA. My goals include empowering graduate students through financial and intellectual support and protecting graduate students’ interests, while helping us have a good time at UCM. To accomplish that, I have quite a bit of organizational and creative experience. I have worked with multiple departments across campus over the past few years for example by hosting the Annual Psychology Symposium, and a Journal Club that I both founded; I have also been a member in our Research Week, and in PsiChi Committees; Finally, I participated in GSA’s conversations and tried to share my input to make our UCM grad life better at all levels. I took the opportunity to participate in the life and development of our campus at other levels as well such as by designing logos for the BLUM center and our very new GPA organization, or being a judge at poster competitions.

 I have also been a leader in the Merced community both conducting health programs and educational activities with youth.

 Finally, as a former International student, I understand the dynamics of being new to the American school system, and I will take care of you Internationals by making the transitions of our new comers easier.

 I am here to listen to you and build a GSA team that will be truly committed to work for you. Collectively, we have a wealth of experience and enthusiasm that we can use to work together and build our UCM community to make it an ever better place to be and develop as professionals and human beings.

I am excited and truly look forward to working with you and represent graduate students across the university and beyond.

Jazmine Kenny, Public Health PhD Public Relations/Community Outreach Officer Although I am a first-year graduate student, I have variety of experiences that I believe are applicable to this position. I was the President of my undergraduate institution’s Alumni Relations Outreach program, and 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, hoping to make UC SHIP more transparent, ensuring students have access to care, and encouraging health prioritization.
I am interested in improving our relations with the Merced community, increasing our presence while making our research more accessible to the UC Merced population and Merced community members, and investing in the Graduate Student Association.
Additionally, this position is part of the GSA Social Life Committee. I believe finding an appropriate balance is so essential as a graduate student—focusing on academia, but also making sure to have fun with stimulating social events throughout the year. Meeting with other graduate students outside your immediate cohort is necessary in order to build and develop a stronger graduate student community. I want to be able to organize even more interesting and enjoyable events, both on and off campus, that work for a variety of graduate students’ schedules.
Tashelle Wright,
Public Health PhD
Climate, Diversity, and 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 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 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.

I feel I would be an asset to the GSA as the Climate, Diversity, and Equity Officer, in many ways and bring my experience, ideas and a fresh perspective.

I appreciate your consideration for this opportunity.

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 population as a whole, which have influenced my aspiration of being elected to a GSA position. These experiences include, to name a few, the past Advisor on Climate, Diversity, and Equity for GSA and a curent 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. Therefore, If elected as the Academic Affairs Officer for GSA, I will work diligently to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness and collaboration, establish accessibility and transparency, and will efficiently fulfill my obligations for this position by any means necessary.
Jasmine Marshall Armstrong, Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD Internal Vice President

My motivation in running for Internal Vice President of GSA is to improve student government and representation at UC Merced. Having previously served as GSA Secretary in 2014- 2015, and as current GSA appointed member of the Committee to select the Assistant Ombuds, and Student Chair of the UCSHIP Committee overseeing Health and Psychological Services, as well as our UC-Funded Student Insurance Plan, I am well-versed in the history, culture and challenges of the Graduate Student Association. I have also attended every GSA meeting this year, and have asked tough questions of administration regarding how our student fees, costing each student over $300 per semester are used. 

A former investigative reporter whose work was recognized by the California Newspaper Publisher's Association, if elected, I will be a tireless watchdog in finding out how administration is spending student-generated fees, and will advocate that fees paid by graduate students are used for services that directly benefit graduate students. One policy change I would like to see GSA bring to a vote is a request that Administration change the policy regarding use of CAPS to include appointments after 5 p.m., and couples or family therapy for graduate students. Many graduate students are married, have domestic partners and/or children. Through research, I discovered that other graduate students in the UC system have access to marriage and family therapy. UC Merced should offer us the same quality of services. Second, I want to ensure that our fees are used to hire more staff who can assist with researching of funding, making travel arrangements, and assisting graduate students who must move from other countries, or from outside Merced, Fresno or Stanislaus counties. Finally, I want our fees used toward better opportunities for non-teaching track career placement across the disciplines, from the Sciences and Engineering, to the Humanities and Social Sciences. A UC Merced doctorate or master's degree should be the key to a better income--whether as an academic researcher, professor or outside academia in other job markets. 

In addition, I will work to ensure more participation and representation among assembly delegates from each graduate group, and pledge to create a better system of public comment, and student-generated agendas. If Graduate Students want to see an issue come up for a vote, I will make it happen. My sole loyalty is to my fellow students--I do not need another service citation for my resume. I already serve as Recording Chair for UAW 2865, our union representing TAs and Research Assistants, most whom are graduate students.  I have founded a Women's Union at UC Merced--a group which is democratic, inclusive, and open to all students, faculty and staff, aimed at improving the climate at UC Merced for all women, and providing them with seminars, networking, and developing funding for scholarships and assistance to continuing their educations. I pledge to be there for all UC Merced students--women and men, cis-gendered or transgender, LGBTI or straight, married or single, parents, reentry students, and international students. We are stronger together and we are the light of the world!