2019/2020 operations TEAM
Every year the incoming GSA president compiles a list of each initiative and advocacy effort the incoming management team agrees is important to pursue in the upcoming year. Many of these items are first recognized, documented, and discussed during the GSA's annual retreat and it is updating on an ongoing basis internally to document the completion of each task. This document is also used to reflect the goals outlined in the strategic plan.
2019 Annual plan
This plan will be developed during May and June and was presented to our Board of Directors during their June meeting for approval.
Official Title: President & CEO
Who is someone you admire, and why? My two daughters, Hailey and Samantha, who both in their own ways, demonstrate on a daily basis, their drive and passion for being the change they wish to see in this world!
What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working? I am happiest amongst the trees, out in nature, on a hike.
What are some causes you care about? I give my time and financial support to a number of different organizations, companies and charities that are socially conscious focused. Two examples would be: Free the Children – youth based projects that are designed to address the root causes of poverty and remove the barriers to children’s education in the developing world with the goal of ending child slave labour; and, Nature Conservancy – working towards conservation and protection of important natural habitat in communities across southern Canada.
What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year? To complete my MA in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy and to work with a team of dedicated and passionate individuals to enhance the graduate student experience here at Laurier.
What do you think are your best skills that you'd like to bring to the GSA and how do you plan on using them? It is my hope and desire to take my years of experience in the areas of wellness, planning, service/program implementation, evaluation, communication, and advocacy in order to continue to improve the graduate student experience here at Laurier.
Name: Jiaxin Guo
Program: Master of Finance (co-op)
Position with GSA: Professional Development Committee Chair & Waterloo Representative
Why did I get involved: Becoming a Golden Hawk was one of the most advisable decisions I made. I got a lot of support from Laurier alumni during my co-op and am more than glad to help graduate students with professional development and improve student satisfaction in Laurier.
What leadership means to me: For me, leadership means listening to others’ opinion with an open mind, extracting valuable information and making the decision for the long benefit of the team, guaranteeing teammates’ satisfaction and sustainable contribution.
Hidden Skill/Talent or Fun Fact: Chinese Caligraphy, Marathon, Poker
Name: Esther Abel
Program: PhD Social Psychology
Position with GSA: Research Committee Chair & Waterloo Representative
Why did I get involved: As a grad student, I know how important support is when going through a degree, as this can be a tough time for a lot of different reasons. I wanted to use my skills, training, and experience to help support my fellow grad students.
What leadership means to me: Creating and maintaining a respectful and organized environment where all involved can participate, be creative, and feel empowered to speak up and work together to create change.
Hidden Skill/Talent: I am a pro at sewing and make custom dresses.
Name: Jenna McGonegal
Program: Master of Social Work
Position with GSA: Mentorship Program Coordinator/Kitchener Representative
Why did I get involved: I got involved with the GSA to help bridge connections between the different Laurier campuses and to contribute to community-building within the Faculty of Social Work.
What leadership means to me: Leadership means advocating for the needs of my peers and contributing to meaningful change that can benefit the Laurier graduate student community.
Hidden Skill/Talent or Fun Fact: I spent two years in South Korea teaching English before starting my MSW.
Name: Arzoo Bhatia
Program: Masters In Theology - Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy
Position with GSA: Waterloo Representative
Why did I get involved: To me, it is important to have an encompassing experience as a student by participating in various opportunities on campus and connecting with others. To be able to help the Laurier graduate community live an inclusive and healthy experience through the GSA and to make and keep our campus a safe place for all is one of my goals for this year and I'm thrilled to be living it now.
What leadership means to me: A quote I live by is "The best way to predict the future is to create it" - Abraham Lincoln. A Leadership role is an opportunity to commit and empower the people. I take concern and care for those I am representing, so they are heard and collaborative change is possible. I believe that passion, integrity, and accountability are some of the core values that define good leadership, and I aim to uphold these values in practice.
Hidden Skill/Talent or Fun Fact: I have lived with 8 dogs and 3 cats at once. The love for animals is real haha. Also, I make a mean S’mores pie.
Name: Adrianna Tassone
Program: Social Psychology
Position: Wellness Committee Chair/ Waterloo Representative
Why I got involved: I got involved with the GSA because I want to help foster student wellness, connect with other students, and enhance the graduate school experience.
What leadership means to me: Leadership means acting as a partner to guide the group towards their goals, listening to their needs, and making people feel welcome and empowered.
Fun fact: I've met Sporty Spice from the Spice Girls!
Official Title: School of International Policy and Governance Representative
Who is someone you admire, and why? I admire my partner, Emily, who everyday challenges me to be a better person and contributor in my community.
What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working? I am happiest when I am outside on a long run, preferably in the mountains, and preferably somewhere I’ve never been. Physical activity is a major part of my wellness—movement is my medicine!
What are some causes you care about? I care deeply about health and wellbeing, and I think food and food culture are areas where we can build communities that better support both. When was the last time you shared a meal with someone you don’t know?
What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year? My goal is to survive my first year as a PhD student and, in the process, help build the GSA presence on campus in ways that reflect graduate student needs. Running a marathon and traveling to South East Asia are also high on the priority list!
What do you think are your best skills that you’d like to bring to the GSA and how do you plan on using them? I hope that my experience in advocacy, event planning, and collaborative group work can help build an inclusive and supportive campus environment for graduate students.
Official Title: Brantford Representative
Who is someone you admire, and why?
My Parents, J.kTano, and AmaFinwaa. They are the reason for my academic success. My parents did not get the opportunity to go to school but invested most of their time, resources and income in my education. My parents are the epitome of motivation, and the greatest source of inspiration for me and parents who would otherwise see illiteracy as a barrier to their children’s education.
What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working?
My happiest moments are the time I spend with friends and family. I enjoy watching soccer and Nigerian Comedy.
What are some causes you care about?
Encouraging people to embrace the spirit of Utilitarianism. I believe in supporting activities that will help create a better society for all its members. I am always happy to see the underprivileged having the“we feeling” factor; the sense of belonging. This to me is an antidote to living fulfilled lives, peace, social and economic developments in our communities.
What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?
To get more experience in fair leadership and also work towards the completion of my M.A in Social Justice and Community Engagement.
What do you think are your best skills that you’d like to bring to the GSA and how do you plan on using them?
To apply the knowledge acquired in Journalism, Public Relations, and marketing to increase GSA’s presence and foster greater participation among all graduate students’, to create a welcoming environment for addressing issues impacting graduate students’ in my Constituency. I will also help GSA organize results-oriented programs that will help build good rapport among all Graduate students’ in all Wilfrid Laurier University campuses. As a Brantford student, I will help GSA engage in some developmental projects in the Brantford Community as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility.
Name: Judy Tran
Official Title: Toronto Representative
Program: Toronto Part-Time MBA
Why did I get involved: I loved organizing events and getting to know people at the Laurier Toronto campus and wanted to continue being involved.
What leadership means to me: "Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." – Warren Bennis
Hidden Skill/Talent or Fun Fact: As a child, my dream job was to become a cashier because I liked the beeping sounds that the scanner made at the checkout. (Full disclosure: I've never been a cashier, although I can probably fulfil that dream now by using self-serve checkouts!)
Name: Ellen Menage
Position with GSA: Executive Director
Why did I get involved: For the last two decades my passion has centered around student leadership and community engagement. My 12 years with the GSA have offered me an opportunity to blend my passion with a career in not-for-profit management. I am grateful that I get to work with such a diverse, and talented group of graduate students every year!
What leadership means to me: I believe that leadership is an action, a positive attitude and an example for others. It does not require a fancy title or position.
Hidden Skill/Talent or Fun Fact: I was President of the Doon Student Association (now Conestoga Incorporated) in 1999-2000.
Name: Cassandra Salatas
Official Title: Marketing & Communications Manager
Why did I get involved: I wanted to contribute my skills and expertise to an organization where I knew they would make a meaningful difference.
What leadership means to me: Instead of Gandhi’s quote “be the change that you wish to see in the world”, sometimes I say “design or create the change you wish to see in the world”. Leadership to me is about using your own unique skills/strengths to “voice” your ideas on how to make positive change.
Hidden Skill/Talent or Fun Fact: I know how to read Greek, but have no clue what the words translate to.
Official Title: Operations Manager, Veritas Café
What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working? Beachcombing
What are some causes you care about? Social justice for all, food security, truth and reconciliation, ending unjust and illegal wars.
What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year? To continue to be healthier in my personal life and to use the newly renovated Veritas Cafe to expand the GSA presence on campus.
What do you think are your best skills that you'd like to bring to the GSA and how do you plan on using them? I think my relationship building skills are going to help grow the Veritas brand.