We all heard of the popular pageant cliché, “It doesn’t matter who wins because we are all winners.” Although this saying may stem from a stereotypical fake pageant queen, it is probably true to some degree and agreed upon by many individuals. I, however, disagree on the most part. A competition is not a competition if everyone wins. Tonight, my fellow GSA member and WSU colleague was the winner of the coveted GSA Presidency, deservingly so, and should not have to share the spotlight with anyone.
According to the soon to be former GSA President James Greening, this was the closest election in the history of GSA with Alexandrina and I tying at some point towards the end of the election. Although it would have been exciting to be the first Chemist and Southeast Asian to occupy the GSA Presidency (Sameep Naik holds the distinction of being the first minority President), this election is still a first in many ways. This is the first time GSA has ever had an elected female President and the first to come from Portugal. Most of all, this is also the first time when all candidates willingly volunteered for the position rather than being appointed or nominated, which says a lot about the level of commitment and initiative of these newly elected officers for the next fiscal year (Fall 2013 – Spring 2014).
Those who voted for me, I want to say thank you for your tremendous support and faith. When I threw my hat in the race, I never thought it would turn into a Barrack Obama vs. Hilary Clinton election. I didn’t realize there was such a significant number of students in GSA who would vote in my favor. I previously thought I was the underdog competing against my GSA senior Alexandrina. As a MS student approaching the end of his 2nd year, it wasn’t my initial intention to ever become President due to the limited time left in the graduate program. However, life always throws me a lemon every now and then, so I learn to come up with creative ways to make lemonade.
Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time due to personal setbacks (open surgery, lost of research time due to extensive laboratory and office flooding, etc.), I contemplated being the next President as a way to continue and expand my commitment to GSA, while having to defer my plans to enter into a PhD program for another year. Being President would have given me the opportunity to learn and experience new things and secured tuition coverage for a full fiscal year. However, that also meant I wouldn’t be able to graduate in Fall 2013 and would have to find a fulltime job to cover living expenses because being President would conflict with the terms of agreement of my teaching assistantship. Thus, those who didn’t vote in my favor, your decision has made my life in many ways easier and I am thankful for that aspect.
I understand this is perhaps the longest and most self-indulgent posting on the GSA website, which I apologize for creating. However, those who have made it this far in the reading, thank you for hearing me out, for I am writing this lengthy speech not simply to concede defeat but to also bid a heartfelt farewell to GSA and raise the awareness of the need for more active GSA members replacing those who will soon graduate. One way of keeping the GSA grants alive is for more people to apply for the GSA grants, but the grants cannot exist without those willing to volunteer their time to carry out the duties vital to the organization.
We now have over a hundred members, but quantity is not necessary a reflection of quality. Since its creation, the organization’s livelihood has rested entirely on the hands of a small committed number of members, just like the American Revolution and Independence were won not by the blood and sweat of a mighty majority but a devoted few minority. Although I have no doubt the four newly elected officers will perform their duties marvelously, but as the organization advances so will the amount of work.
When I joined GSA, I was one of the first three recipients of the GSA Original Work Grant and the organization has been in existence for only about a year. The GSA OWG was the first research grant I ever received although I have applied for others in the past. Being a recipient was truly a rewarding experience to know there were people who valued and appreciated the significance of my work. Although I understood it would be challenging and possibly suicidal to get involved actively with GSA considering my demanding academic life, I wanted very much to show my gratitude and strive to keep the grant program alive so others can share the elation I felt when I was awarded the OWG.
One of the legendary Founding Mothers of GSA Lisa Douglas created the GSA website, but there was no one willing to assume the role of managing the organization’s leading marketing tool and communication center once Lisa graduate. I knew I had to assume that role if I wanted to realize my goals of expanding the website to another level and so began my venture into the world of webpage management and predatory pursuit of grant recipients.
Lisa and Crystal Whetstone spent an hour teaching me the basics of managing the site, but from then on, I was on my own and in unknown territory. Prior to my management, the website was mainly a place to upload important postings. With the birth of the new grant program, it was evident the website needed to move into a new direction. The website needed a significant facelift, because unlike more well established grant programs, our website didn’t have a designated established place to disclose the profiles of all grant winners over time. Neither did the site give recognition or kept track of all the active members (i.e. past and present officers and committee members) who help made GSA the success that it is today.
The pdf documents I created over the year and the new submenu sections paved the way to achieving my goal of creating the 1st Annual GSA Yearbook. This is my legacy to GSA, because future website managers will have these documents as templates and not have to start from scratch like I did. Most importantly, everything I have made conform to the university’s marketing toolkit in terms of logos and school colors.
Management of the website itself has consumed so much of my life that it really has become an unpaid fulltime job over the last year. Graduate students are plagued with too much work and not enough pay, so my ultimate goal was to implement a system that would make future management of the website more efficient and significantly less time consuming. I believe I have achieved that goal. The last objective is to recruit and train other members who are willing to become the next manager and designers of the GSA homepage. If you are an interested in taking on this challenge, please attend a future meeting and contact me for more information. Together, I think we can help continue the tradition of excellence and help come closer to fulfilling James Greening’s vision of making GSA an international phenomenon.
Finally, I just want to say thank you Ahmed Obeidat, James Greening, Crystal Whetstone, Neelima Sharma, and Moner Ragas for trying to help me realize my dream of creating an Interdisciplinary Research Day event for Graduate students with prizes awarded to the best presenters. I wanted this to happen for so long at WSU, but I never thought it could become a statewide event. I have learned so much from working with you guys and everyone else at GSA whom I interacted. Years from now, I hope to go on the GSA website and see the continuing success of the organization that lets the world know WSU creates not only great minds but individuals with strong hearts and spirits as well.