Candidates 2018




Cierra Raine Sorin

VP of Academic Affairs

No Candidate (please write in a candidate)

VP of Budget and Finance

Luke Rosedahl

VP of Committees and Planning

Amanda Rodriguez

VP of Communications and Records

No Candidate (please write in a candidate)

VP of External Affairs

Leihua Ye

VP of Internal Affairs

Heather Prentice-Walz

VP of Student Affairs

Jennifer Selvidge

Satish Kumar




Cierra Raine Sorin, Sociology

My name is Cierra Raine Sorin, and I am a third year PhD student in sociology with an emphasis in Feminist Studies. I am running to be your next GSA President as I have been involved with the Graduate Student Association since my first quarter of grad school and my experiences therein have uniquely equipped me to continue bettering the lives of all grad students here at UCSB.

I believe strongly in giving back to your community and have made that a mission of mine since my arrival at UCSB. My first two years, I served as a GSA representative for the sociology department, and this year I am your VP of Communications and Records. I have also served as a member and eventually co-leader of the Sociology Graduate Student Association, where I successfully advocated for a significant increase in department funding for graduate student activities. Since my first year, I have sat on numerous campus committees dedicated to issues of diversity as well as gendered and sexual violence, and I have participated in student activist efforts to change the culture of sexual violence on campus. I currently co-run the TA training committee in my department, and as a lead TA this year, I ran several workshops through Instructional Development at the all-campus TA training in September. I take seriously my commitment both as a scholar and as an activist to making institutional change happen, and I know firsthand just how integral we as graduate students are in making those changes.

As a member of the Executive Board this year, and with two prior years as a rep, I have developed an intimate understanding of the operation of the Graduate Student Association and have been fortunate to develop relationships with the administrators who directly play a role in our success here. As such, I will not need to spend as much time learning the ropes, and instead will be able to devote more time to dealing with the issues that affect us. I hope to continue the work we have already been doing this year to increase available and affordable housing, better support and represent our diverse student population, bring more resources to our grads, and aid our union in their ongoing fight for our graduate student workers.

On a lighter note, I also believe in the importance of balance for the sake of our mental and physical health, because we are more than the work we do! Grad school is a difficult, demanding time in our lives, but that does not mean we can’t have fun, too! As GSA president, I will work with the executive board to plan and implement more events for us that bring joy, relaxation, and lots of free food into our lives. I look forward to continuing to serve you, and I hope you will elect me as your new GSA president.

Vice President of Academic Affairs

No Candidate (please write in a candidate)

Vice President of Budget and Finance

Luke Rosedahl, Dynamical Neuroscience

Luke here (your current VP of Budget and Finance). Over the last year I have been working hard ensure the GSA uses its resources to optimally serve our graduate community! Whether by allocating funds to support the many events hosted by the GSA (such as Mosher Time!) or working to make the fund disbursal process as quick as possible, I have dedicated myself to finding the best way our resources can serve you and build our graduate student community.

Looking forward into the upcoming year I have a couple major goals. The main goal will be to set up a full streamlined system for all of the payments the GSA makes. Switching our finances to Associated Students has substantially increased our overall financial processing speed, but as with any new system there are still some improvements to be made!

The second main goal is to continue to find new ways to use our resources to help build our graduate community. Grad school can be lonely at times and often it is difficult to meet people outside of your department (or maybe even lab), and in today’s climate expanding our friendships and communities is more important than ever! As the main organization for graduate students on campus, the GSA has the ability to play a major role in facilitating friendships and community. By continuing to support the events put on by the GSA I look forward to continuing to help build our sense of community, inclusivity, and wellbeing here at UCSB!

Vice President of Committees and Planning

Amanda Rodriguez, Sociology

Work-life balance is something we are constantly told to strive for but are rarely able to achieve as graduate students. If you are anything like me, it is next to impossible to get me out of the house after a long day of work for anything less than free food. Let me feed you! As your VP of Committees and Planning, I will do my best to provide programming that will entice you out of your blanket burrito or far-too-small-windowless grad office with much-needed sustenance and human contact.

As much as we all like free food and good music though, we also have a responsibility as grad students and members of a democratic society to make our voices heard. All of the amazing and crucial work our union and other GSA executives do needs to be reinforced and supported by graduate students using their voices on the numerous committees across campus. It is not enough for our union or GSA to advocate on our behalf if we are not also in the room as decisions are being made and policies are shaped. If you are unhappy about anything that is impacting your ability to be a happy, healthy, and successful graduate student, there is a committee that desperately needs your voice. I will aim to get graduate students on at least 80% of committees to ensure we have representation in as many facets of academic and student life as possible.

That’s all well and good, but none of what I just said really matters if I don’t have the skills to bring any of this to fruition. Fear not, I have been preparing my whole life to be your VP of Committees and Planning! As a Sociology PhD student, my research uses the internet, specifically social media, as my research site because I understand how central the internet is to how we get information and engage in social life. As such, I will work to make better use of social media platforms to promote social events and get folks interested in serving on committees. It is my impression that so many committee positions go unfilled because folks simply don’t know they exist! Plus, raise your hand if you immediately delete emails from listservs. Me too.

Finally, my ability to work well under pressure and organize things large and small (my closet is color coordinated and then arranged by sleeve length within each color block) will help me plan social events people actually want to attend. I come from a large Mexican family, so I know how to throw a party. I will use social media to get folks to engage with me directly so I’m planning events people are excited about. Help me help you and vote Amanda Rodriguez for your next VP of Committees and Planning!

Vice President of Communications and Records

No Candidate (please write in a candidate)

Vice President of External Affairs

Leihua Ye, Political Science

Hello, Gauchos! This is Leihua Ye, a fourth year Ph.D. student at Political Science and a master student at Statistics. Today, I’m running for the VP of External Affairs (VPEA)! Personally, I strongly believe politics should serve the public good and elected representatives should do everything possible to improve the community well-being, for which reason I study politics and also the one running for GSA. For the past few years at UCSB, I’ve been working closely with faculty members both within and outside the home department to improve students’ welfare. First, I was a co-chair for the Beyond Academia (BA) Conference from 2016 to 2017 in charge of optimizing the overall conference structure based on the feedback collected from the past and soliciting speakers with advanced degrees (Masters and Ph.D.) who have been successfully transitioned into industry. With team effort, we were able to invite more than 20 highly qualified panelists nationwide. As a result, our graduate students could seek advice directly from and network with these successful candidates. Furthermore, this annual self-organized event raised university-wide awareness of career support that graduate students should be receiving and also the importance of close collaboration among different departments for such endeavor. In addition, I have been a representative for international students for two years and a diversity member at the Political Science Department. Both roles ask me to be a “ear” and “mouth” of graduate students: listen to matters that concern students and speak up and seek solutions with collective efforts. As a graduate student, I’m fully aware of the hardships and obstacles that we have to overcome in order to get the degree. If elected, I will speak up for our graduate students’ welfare, address the concerns that have been expressed, and fight for our commonly shared interests.

Vice President of Internal Affairs

Heather Prentice-Walz, Anthropology

I am honored to be nominated for the position of Vice President of Internal Affairs for the 2018/19 academic year. I have recently been elected to serve as the interim VP of Internal Affairs, and would love to have the opportunity to continue working in this capacity next year. I ask for your support this electoral season.

Since being elected interim VP of Internal Affairs, my current job duties include managing the graduate student lounge, helping to coordinate GSA General Assembly meetings, and working with GSA executives to ensure that the organization runs smoothly. Recently, I have been working collaboratively with the current GSA lounge employees and executive GSA members to revamp internal organizational systems. I have very much enjoyed working in this position so far, and am inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of the current GSA executives. I wholeheartedly support the GSA’s mission of accurately and adequately representing the graduate student body, ensuring that graduate students have access to on-campus and off-campus support and resources, and cultivating a healthy, inclusive, and compassionate community.

Since beginning my Ph.D. program in sociocultural anthropology here at UCSB, the GSA lounge has become part a central part of my academic, social, and community life on campus. I have been fortunate enough to work as a member of the GSA lounge staff since September of 2017- you may have seen me running around making coffee and putting out cream cheese during Wednesday morning Bagel Hour. The GSA lounge provides a much-needed work space for graduate students, fosters community, and plays a critical role in connecting students to a diversity of opportunities and resources. I am invested in maintaining and cultivating the GSA lounge as a positive, welcoming, and useful space for our graduate student community.

I value collaboration and, if elected, I will work hard to gather and incorporate graduate student feedback in matters concerning the GSA lounge and the overall graduate student experience at UCSB. I know from personal experience that there are many challenges associated with being a graduate student, and I believe it is important for our voices to be heard and considered in university decisions. As VP of Internal Affairs for the 2018/2019 academic year I will do everything within my power to advocate for you, my fellow graduate students. Thank you!

Vice President of Student Affairs

Jennifer Selvidge, Materials Science and Engineering

It is my hope to run for VP of Student Affairs in the hopes of creating greater accessibility to student affairs departments to Graduate Students on campus. As graduate students, we have access to the many offices in Student Affairs such as CARE, CAPS, the Disabled Students Program (DSP), and the Multicultural Center. However, outreach to our specific communities and programming for our specific needs has often been limited. When studies show that nearly 50% of graduate students will suffer from a mental health issue at some time in their career, it is critically important that we receive the outreach and support we need to succeed in our roles as educators and researchers. In the past three years that I have been a student here, I have worked with CARE and the Title IX office to increase outreach both to graduate students and the domestic and dating violence awareness posters, as well as the sexual harassment awareness posters, are a product of that collaboration. I am additionally currently serving, until June of 2019, as the graduate student representative to the UC-wide Title IX Student Advisory Board. In this role, I have been advocating at a system-wide level for further attention to be given to the needs of graduate students on the 10 UC campuses. Through this work, I have had the opportunity to work with DSP and CAPS and hope to have the opportunity to encourage them to continue putting greater focus onto the needs of graduate students. I have additionally worked with the Director of Diversity Programs from GradDiv, and in this role, helped to bridge the traditional gap between the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity(RCSGD). This spring, in part due to my work, for the first time the RCSGD has a tuition and fees graduate student position whose focus is to do outreach to queer and trans graduate students. As the role of the VP of Student Affairs is often to represent GSA on committees related to student affairs, I believe my strong working relationships with many of the administrators currently serving in those roles could be a great asset to the graduate student community. If elected, I will work tirelessly to increase graduate student voices and resources in those spaces.

Satish Kumar, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Hey, guys. I’m Satish, and I’m a first-year student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science hoping to serve as your Vice President of Student Affairs. I am seeking to increase the representation of STEM majors, Master’s students and international students in the GSA as these experiences can be very different and pose unique issues. As an international Master’s student in Electrical Engineering, I may be better equipped to advocate for issues specific to these populations. There is also a particular under-representation of Master’s students in the Association. Although we may remain at UCSB for less time than do PhD students, we are equally affected by campus issues.

To this effect, I propose that non-TA/GSR campus jobs for which graduate students apply should give preference to those who don’t already have another position on campus to or whose TA position does not fully cover their tuition. There are not enough TA positions available for everyone – this policy would allow for campus funds to be distributed more equitably.  Additionally, for graduate student courses, the library should hold more course textbooks on reserve and have a quicker turnover for Interlibrary Loan books for courses (currently, it takes 3-4 weeks for an ILL request to be processed).

Of course, there is so much that affects the student body as a whole that I’d like to address also. Not every graduate student gets their own office and many study areas aren’t open past 5 pm, and for those who need an isolated and quiet space in which to work, I will insist that graduate students be able to reserve their own study carrels in the library for the academic year where we could be guaranteed workspace and where we could store some of our things. I would also secure extended hours for the study areas that do already exist on campus, for instance, the GSA lounge.

Others have also touched on the housing issue, but I propose that graduate students should be able to request housing in undergraduate spaces if there are no accommodations available in San Clemente.

My last proposal is a bit less structured, but for international students, particularly non-native English speakers, there has to be more language support, whether as students, as TAs, as job and fellowship applicants, and in everyday administrative functions.

Graduate life is hard; why not let me reduce a few bumps in the road?