2017-18 Executive Officers
President: Kira Homola, Oceanography
I entered GSO in 2014 after earning dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Oceanography and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Geochemical Oceanography under Dr. Arthur Spivack. Originally from the Puget Sound, my passion for science, education, and the ocean keep me involved in outreach and teaching in addition to my research.
My expertise lies in organization, rallying interest into action, public speaking, event planning and implementation, and attention to detail. Being involved in a group that fights hard for the rights of all its members is incredibly appealing to me, as I am strongly devoted to equality and opportunity for all. I would like to see the GAU community grow, strengthen, and work to educate our members and the general public about the role of unions in politics, the workplace, and our futures.
Vice President: Kaytee Canfield, Marine Affairs
I came to URI this past fall to begin my Ph.D. in the Marine Affairs department, and have been involved with GAU since November 2016. The union empowers (us) to make an impact in our campus community, connects (us) to fellow graduate students, and teaches (us) how to be more effective organizers and activists.
With the current uncertainty of immigration rights of our international students, funding for science and education, and decisions of government in general, I can no longer be a bystander. The momentum we have been gaining as a union excites me and has motivated me to continue fighting for the rights to education and humanity we all deserve.
Secretary: Victoria Treadaway, Oceanography
I grew up in a union household and I know how important unions are to give a voice and support to people. I also understand that unions (like GAU) are a two-way street and in order to amplify our voice we need to be involved. As GAU Secretary, I do my part to facilitate communication between members and the executive board, the faculty, the administration, and our communities. Moving forward in the current political climate, GAU will need to figure out what its role is and I am honored to be a part of that. My experience so far has been enlightening about the behind the scenes work needed to get the job done. I will use my experiences as a scientist and a founding member of GAU's Speak Out for Science team to help move GAU forward and strengthen our collective power.
Treasurer: Anita Oppong, Chemistry
Anita Oppong is my name. I am a Ghanaian studying chemistry (PhD) at the University of Rhode Island. I am training to be a synthetic chemist specializing in Method development.
I was introduced to GAU in my first year and I got curious about what they stood for. I didn't know the depth of their importance until I really got involved. I was elected for member at large but had to step in for the Treasurer. I was super excited because this was an opportunity for me to know how our dues are utilized since I get people asking me such questions.
As Vice President of the Chemistry students association in Ghana, I worked with the treasurer to raise and manage funds for CHEMSA. I am really excited to be in this position to help GAU grow to become bigger and better.
As Treasurer, I will be responsible for bank account management, Grant Fund administration, managing our resources, and ensuring with the help of our executive director, Danielle Dirocco, that the Union runs smoothly financially and logistically.
I know GAU will serve you well this year and in the years to come because we are dedicated to our members. United we stand, divided we fall. We need YOU to make GAU work!
Grievance Chair: Michaela Cashman, Geosciences
I am an MS/ PhD transitioning student in the Department of Geosciences with interest in groundwater remediation technologies and pollution fate and transport.
We joke in my office that, "Graduate School is giving it your best, trying your hardest, and failing anyways". It's those mistakes that make us learn and grow as scholars, but the bumpy road of grad school is difficult to navigate alone. I joined the GAU eboard in 2016 because I wanted to bring attention to the emotional well-being of graduate students at URI. Something I've realized as Grievance Chair is that many students don't even know they have the right to grieve, or what their rights are. I work to defend the student's voice and strengthen the graduate community. Because when you don't know what your rights are, you're consenting to lose them.
Member at Large: Nilton Gomes, English
My name is Nilton Gomes and I am in the second year of the PhD program in English here at URI. My work concentrates on the Long 18th Century and the Aesthetics of Concealment.
I want to do my part (small or big as it may be) in strengthening our union. I think that as members of this workforce (and that is what we are: we are both students and workers here at URI) we have a responsibility to our union. The rights that we have today have been secured by the work done by those members who came before us, and I think that it is our job to play a role, big or small, in working to ameliorate our working conditions for ourselves and for those GAs who will come after us. I would like to see this union get bigger, as large as possible with 100% membership, but also more active because it is a moot point if we have members but little to no action. I would like this union to continue to do the work it has been doing in reaching out to members to join and to take action. I would like to do whatever I can to communicate to our members the importance of our union (and the importance of unionizing in general) and to mobilize them to action. Obviously lots of good work has been done on that front, but we can always use improvement; and the more members we have who are engaged and active, the better ideas we will be able to generate and the greater strength we will have. I have a role to play in that.
Member at Large: Melissa Hoffman, Biological and Environmental Sciences
My name is Melissa Hoffman and I am a master’s student in Biological and Environmental Sciences. During my first year at URI, I became really interested in Graduate Assistants United because of their commitment to fighting for fair working wages and other issues that face graduate students. I was particularly excited to see that our union not only fights for fair working conditions, but also uses the group as a platform for social justice issues facing our community – this confirmed to me that I wanted to be more involved with GAU.
I want to help get GAU’s message out wherever I can. In my studies and in my social life, I love communicating with people and telling them what I’m passionate about – which is why I am so excited to be in a position that allows me to communicate GAU’s solidarity, passion, and strength to the greater community. As member at large, I look forward to improving the breadth of our communication outlets, and getting important messages to our community as quickly and clearly as possible.
Past President: Nick Constant, Electrical Engineering
My name is Nick Constant, and I am a Graduate Student in Electrical Engineering here at URI. I have been a research assistant in the Wearable Biosensing Lab for the past two years. I help to create assistive technology for the healthcare industry. I am finishing up my master's program this summer, and transitioning straight into the Ph.D. program for Electrical Engineering.
I have been involved with the GAU since starting my graduate studies two years ago. I haven't looked back since. It's been one of the most fulfilling decisions I have made since being at URI. It's given me a chance to support my brothers and sisters in cultivating an enjoyable and fair workplace. We are not there yet, but I believe we are heading in the right direction. I think this upcoming year is primed to produce an explosive amount of activism and support within our community. I want to be apart of this.
I hope to contribute to fueling the fire that has sparked the increase in sense of community. I hope to contribute by helping the union harness the raw power is emerging from the community. This union can be and will be the best graduate union in the country when 2018 is finished.