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GPSF Leaders Gain National Perspective

Thomas Pegelow, a GPSF senator, said he and four other members attended the 2001 National Association of Graduate-Professional Students' 16th Annual National Conference, held Nov. 7 to 11 in Tucson, Arizona.

The NAGPS is an organization that represents about 800,000 graduate and professional students at about 200 universities throughout the United States, Pegelow said.

Pegelow said the conference was very beneficial for GPSF because the organization was able to discuss their views with other graduate students and organizations. "I think it was important to connect with other graduate student associations on a national level," he said.

Mikesha Brown, president of the GPSF, said the information members learned from other graduate students at the conference will be useful when the GPSF talks to UNC administrators.

"We can look at what other comparable universities are doing, and use that as leverage when talking to administrators," she said.

Pegelow said an extensive legislative platform was passed at the conference, and that there are plans for members of the NAGPS to go to Washington, D.C., in February and June to lobby federal officials.

He said the platform addresses many issues, such as international student concerns and funding and rights for graduate students.

Pegelow said that in the past five years, the GPSF was not as involved at the national level, but the leadership of this year's organization has taken a different approach. "I think the new leadership realizes that we have many things in common with graduate and professional students from other schools," he said.

During the course of the conference, two UNC students were elected to the national board of the NAGPS. Pegelow was elected chairman of the international student concerns committee and Jennifer Burgoon, the internal vice president of the GPSF, was re-elected as ombuds coordinator of the NAGPS.

Burgoon said the GPSF will reach out to other universities, as well as to UNC students. She said the organization is looking to attend a regional conference with other universities in the spring, and it will help graduate student organizations on other universities campuses as well.

While participants focused on national issues during the weekend, Brown said the GPSF also will continue to work toward its agenda at UNC.

She said the group's mission includes involving more graduate students in programs at UNC, working more with University administrators, providing adequate childcare for graduate students and helping students deal with the rising costs of attending UNC.

Burgoon said the GPSF will have its next meeting Dec. 4, and the members will discuss some of the ideas from the conference.

Burgoon said attending the conference had a positive effect on the GPSF members who attended. "It was an exciting experience for everyone there and we made a lot of wonderful contacts."

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