Graduate & Professional Student Assembly Candidates: Spring 2023 Election

Meet the Candidates:


Melia Matthews
I am Melia Matthews, a second year PhD student in Biomedical and Biological Science. I have been involved with the GPSA since I arrived on campus, starting as a club representative for Graduate Women in Science, and most recently as the Programming Board Chair, working to create community building events as well as organizing the upcoming Spring Gala. I believe it is important to have a wide range of voices represented within the GPSA, and I look forward to creating an Executive Board of both PhD and masters students from a wide range of fields. My major goals include increasing awareness and access to campus resources and advocating on a number of graduate and professional student issues, specifically transportation/parking, TA training, retirement fund options, and Big Red Barn upgrades.

Executive Vice President
Michelle Heeney
I'm Michelle Heeney (she/they) and professionally I am a Plant Biology Ph.D. student. This past year I went from a Life sciences voting member to member of the University Assembly and VP of Communications. I have learned a lot about the University and think there is a lot of space for increased graduate student advocacy. I want to better connect students to resources and raise concerns to administration. I want to do this by working closely with whoever Chairs the Student Advocacy and Diversity and International Students Committees. This past year I have created all of the posters for elections and GPSA roles and hope to continue with creating information clarifying way in which GPSA can better serve students.

Vice President of Operations
Annika McGraw
Annika McGraw is a first-year student in the Brooks MPA Program, concentrating on Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy. She acted as the Chair of the GPSA Student Advocacy Committee for the 2022-23 academic year and implemented advocacy programs such as GPSA News and weekly office hours at the BRB. If elected as Vice President of Operations, Annika would work to update and condense the GPSA Bylaws to ensure clarity and readability for all students. She would also hope to create a new committee for students with dependents and would ensure committee chairs have adequate assistance.

Vice President of Communications
Katie Farrell
Katie Farrell is a first year MPA student with a concentration in Environmental Policy. She currently serves as an Executive Member of WIPP and Treasurer of the GPSA Programming Committee. She is passionate about student government and advocacy for her fellow peers, and in her spare time she loves to read and enjoy the sun.
Andi Garcia-Ortiz
My name is Andi Garcia-Ortiz, I am a 1st year BME Ph.D. graduate student. I am currently serving as the communication director for the Graduate BMES chapter and I have loved the experience of creating content and dispersing information to the graduate community. I hope to expand my communication network to the GPSA community and gain a deeper understanding of the activities and events coordinated by the Graduate School.

Diversity & International Students Committee Chair
Jenifer Bustamante
I’m Jenifer Bustamante, a first-year MPA student. I’m from Bogota, Colombia, and I have more than seven years of experience related to public policies in the public sector. In addition, I own my own company, Mind My Emotions, which aims to develop soft skills and emotional intelligence in children. I would like to run for this position, because people around the world (international students) want to join high quality schools, like Cornell and I can contribute to represent some of the most important point of view in our community. Also, I’m the only Latin American in the program, and I would love to represent the diversity of international students.
Mah Liqa
My name is Dr. Mah Liqa, a dentist by profession, pursuing Masters of Public Health at Cornell University. I am a final year graduate student. As an international student myself, I know the hoops we have to jump through to find opportunities and build skills. I aim to design and promote a system within Cornell University, that establishes equitable opportunities for all international students. As the current DISC chair, I have built a foundation such that members and elected chairs are able to grow and expand DISC to improve the student experience of International students at Cornell University.
Dhruv Parekh
I am Dhruv Parekh, a first-year Masters of Regional Planning student at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (2022-2024). With a passion for diversity and inclusion, I wish to nominate myself as the Chair of the Diversity and International Students Committee (DISC). As an international student hailing from Dubai and Mumbai, I am well-versed with the challenges that students face when moving to a new place. I am eager to utilize my experience and skills to help students from diverse backgrounds and cultures integrate seamlessly into the local student community. Diversity is essential to me, as it brings different perspectives and helps us broaden our horizons while becoming more sensitive to life itself. I have experience in managing and facilitating conversation and engagement, and my goal as Chair of DISC is to re-establish a robust network between GPSA and all other international and diversity-based student organizations across campus. I want to improve the committee's reach and effectiveness and set up a strong feedback system so that we can foster a sense of belonging and make the most of our time at Cornell. I am confident that with my leadership, we can create a community that embraces and celebrates diversity in all its forms and creates a welcoming environment for students from all backgrounds. I am excited about this opportunity to serve as the Chair of the Diversity and International Students Committee and am committed to fulfilling this role with dedication and enthusiasm.

Arts and Humanities Voting Member
Tyler Wolford
My name is Tyler Wolford. I am going into my seventh year as a phd candidate in the medieval studies program. I have served as the Medieval Studies field representative for a year before my current role as a voting member for Arts and Humanities. With my experience serving in GPSA since 2021, I hope to continue to voice the concerns of graduate students from A&H.


Social Sciences Voting Member
Georgia Smits
My name is Georgia Smits and I'm currently a third-year Statistics PhD student. I've been part of the GPSA since the beginning of my second year, and serve with the goal of making sure that the interests of students of all identities, backgrounds, and even degree types are kept in mind. I would love to continue representing Social Sciences this coming year as well!