A Place to Concentrate
By Greta Petry (March 4,
Gurinder Singh, president of the Graduate Student Organization, in the new graduate lounge in BA 120.
Graduate students have a new space on campus.
Room 120 of the Business Administration Building has a small kitchen, several coffee-shop style tables, as well as a comfy sofa and two stuffed chairs.
Tucked away in a corner of the new graduate student lounge is additional office space for the Graduate Student Organization (GSO).
The new space for graduate students is inviting, comfortable, and conducive to concentration. Graduate students in need of fax and Xerox services will still find them in the main GSO office in Campus Center 165B.
GSO President Gurinder Singh, 30, who grew up in Bombay, India, is a part-time master's student in accounting and a full-time employee of the Office of Institutional Research, where he does data analysis. Singh said GSO is doing very well this year. The organization has grown from 20 to 28 departmental, social, and cultural groups in the last six or seven months. Among the new groups are the Student Yoga Society, the Jewish Organization of Graduate Students, and the Albany Cricket Club. Students are taking an active part in University Senate councils and committees and are also serving on a city of Albany committee. He added that women are playing a greater role in GSO. Today there are six women officers on the executive board out of seven positions. He said, "GSO serves as an example of the diversity on our campus," adding the organization offers local students the opportunity through programming and multicultural events to meet and make friends with students from different lands. "In addition, each year GSO groups like the International Students' Association, Indian Students' Organization, and the Chinese Students' and Scholars' Association help new students with temporary housing and other information to help them settle in," he said.
At GSO, Singh works with an executive board of six officers, and two office assistants. They are: Vice President Elizabeth Redkey; Multicultural Affirmative Action Chair Florencia Cornet; Programming Chair Maria Onetti Bischoff; Grants Chair Elena Stylianou; Treasurer Pei Wang; Assembly Speaker Sophia Brown; Office Assistant Gottlieb Jicha; and Office Assistant Amirah Cousins.
"They all do an excellent job," he said. The GSO works with schools, departments, and offices to help improve the educational experience of graduate schools here at UAlbany.
He is also pleased with the close relationship GSO is enjoying with Student Affairs this year, and he is delighted that graduate students will be recognized for the first time through the awarding on March 6 of what used to be called the President's Undergraduate Leadership Awards. The awards are now called the President's Awards for Leadership.
This change came about at the invitation of Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Christine Bouchard after a discussion about how to achieve greater public recognition for graduate students, who serve the University community as research, teaching, and graduate assistants. They also help to shape the University's policies and future by being actively involved with councils and committees.
Bouchard said, "This awards ceremony is just one step in formally recognizing the many contributions of graduate students to the UAlbany community. The Division of Student Affairs is pleased to collaborate with GSO in this worthy effort."
Graduate students are also serving on a city of Albany mayor's committee for the Midtown Project that is looking into rehabilitating parts of the city in which most college students live, from the UAlbany downtown campus to the College of Saint Rose.
GSO also has a research and travel grants program for eligible graduate students. This is a competitive program offered each semester through which students can obtain up to $650 in grant money. In addition, GSO awards up to $2,500 to its groups, though the average award is closer to $1,500, and one may apply up to three times a year.
"We are also contributing $500 for tsunami relief to the American Red Cross from GSO funds," said Singh.
The GSO president earned an M.B.A. from UAlbany in 2003. "India is doing very well, but for me, America is the land of opportunity, where I can grow and realize my potential," he said.