President Haas speaks to graduate students at GSA

Sarah Hillenbrand

The Graduate Student Association at Grand Valley State University puts on many different events throughout the year to get both new and returning graduate students to feel more welcome and connected to campus and their peers. At their first event of the year, GSA brought in President Thomas J. Haas to their weekly Wednesday night meetings at the DeVos Center’s University Club.

The event gave members of GSA the chance to hear Haas speak in a more informal manner and allowed them the opportunity to ask questions.

“The purpose of GSA is to build a graduate community,” said Austin Dean, GSA president. “There is a lot of emphasis on undergraduate students, but graduate students need that too, and we forget that sometimes.”

During his talk with GSA, Haas said there are almost 900 new graduate students at GVSU this year, including more full-time graduate students than there were in past years.

“We want to help you reach for a goal, but also help you connect with each other and staff,” Haas said.

With GVSU adding more new buildings and increasing space, Haas said he wants to make the graduate programs grow even more.

“I would like it to grow by 1,000 students in the next five years in full time programs, but it comes down to additional space,” he said. “I want to reach out and see what we can do; that’s my vision.”

Haas also encouraged international students who were also graduate students to be proactive in becoming part of the campus community.

“Reach out and make those connections,” Haas said. “Connect with your advisor, faculty, and other students in your classes.”

Dean said GSA itself provides students a place to meet and connect with other students, network, and have their questions answered.

“For the newer students, they don’t know what Grand Valley is all about, but President Haas will bring that connection,” Dean said.

The club has continued to grow from year to year, and eventually, Dean said they would like to expand the club more to have each graduate college make an organization in their field.
“GSA is one of the only groups that is all encompassing for everyone,” said Jessie Emdin, who is in her last semester of the MPA program at GVSU. “It helps new students to get acquainted with campus.”

GSA has events planned throughout the year to provide graduate students with as much guidance, and as many resources as possible.
“I want to have all Grand Valley students, both graduate and undergraduate, be a Laker for a lifetime,” Haas said. “You represent all the students and have an organization like this that can provide great value to all other students.”

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