The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday May 31st

New GPSF Chief Eager to Embrace Challenges Ahead

After only six months as a Tar Heel, the Graduate and Professional Student Federation president-elect said she is eager to learn the ropes of student government's executive branch.

Mikisha Brown, a personable first-year graduate student in the Department of Health Education, was a write-in candidate on the Feb. 13 election ballot. She won in Tuesday's runoff election by 140 votes.

Born in Jamaica and raised in Connecticut, Brown went on to college in Massachusetts and came to North Carolina in August for graduate school.

Brown decided to run about four weeks ago when she heard that no one was running for the position and other students made her aware of the opportunity.

But before campaigning, Brown said her biggest reservation was being certain she was ready for the commitment. "I wanted to make sure it was something I would commit my time to, and not just taking a position for the sake of the position," she said.

She also noted that she would be a fresh face to the GPSF program and to Suite C. "I'm a new kid on the block," she said.

But the idea of entering unknown territory does not hinder Brown's eager spirit. "With time I'll get to see how (Suite C) works to facilitate my responsibility to graduate and professional students and my interaction with the larger student government."

In preparation for the position, Brown plans to meet with the GPSF adviser, seek opinions of past presidents and put in extra time now and during the summer. "I don't think (the position) will be as difficult as it might appear on paper," she said.

Brown felt that her strongest contribution will be her enthusiasm. "I'm really committed to making this work, and I like to infect people with that same amount of enthusiasm," she said.

Current GPSF President Thad Woody said he thought Brown's campaign platform outlined important issues. He said the biggest issues she will have to face are childcare for graduate students' families and bringing graduate students closer to the undergraduate program and the University.

"It's hard for graduate students to get a feel for Carolina when they're so isolated from other students," he said.

Of his own experience as GPSF president, Woody said the post proved to be much more difficult than he expected. He said the biggest challenge is trying to communicate with graduate students.

"It's a task that's daunting because trying to get 8,000 graduate students under one umbrella is hard," Woody said. "It's a substantial time commitment."

But he said the job has its advantages.

"I got to be close to some people that I have a great deal of respect for," Woody said.

He also cited a more tangible prize. "The greatest reward had to be the parking, because the GPSF president gets parking on campus, which is a great perk."

Brown acknowledged the blessing of this reward, admitting, "It'll be much less of a hassle than navigating the bus system."

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