Grad students find a voice through BYUGSA

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    By Joli Williams

    A new BYU campus association helps graduate students find a unified voice.

    Unbeknownst to many graduate students, BYU currently sponsors an organization that provides scholarships, travel and research grants to qualified applicants.

    Brigham Young University Graduate Student Association is a student-run organization focused primarily on becoming a power for the graduate student community.

    “The purpose of BYUGSA is to be a voice in university administration…we want to make the graduate experience at BYU more enjoyable,” said Saimoni Naivalu, BYUGSA vice president of membership and public relations.

    The graduate program at BYU is often neglected, said Mal Richardson, BYUGSA president from Huntington Beach, Calif.

    “We (graduate students) have become a fairly voiceless, weak minority on campus,” Richardson said.

    Because BYU is focused on undergraduate studies, many of the wants, needs and concerns of graduate students go unheard and unanswered.

    Richardson proposed to change this trend by “becoming an effective, powerful, listened to and acted upon voice in BYU administration.”

    Most graduate students are not interested in the social environment BYU has to offer, said Jeff Bradshaw a 27-year-old, MPA student from England.

    “We are here looking for careers and education…a chance to be intellectually stimulated,” Bradshaw said.

    Through various conferences, workshops and lectures, BYUGSA has helped to create the community of ideas graduate students like Bradshaw are looking for.

    Although BYUGSA was founded a year ago, this association has already made tremendous strides in academic enhancement, said Richardson. Research and travel grants are awarded to several qualified students every fall and winter semester.

    All graduate students have the opportunity to receive BYUGSA benefits, said Naivalu. No dues are required and all graduate students are automatic members.

    “I am basically here to serve the graduate students,” said Richardson. “I want our needs to be a priority…I am looking for solutions.”

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