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Katie Heath elected as 2024-25 graduate and professional student body president

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Graduate student Katie Heath poses at the Old Well on the UNC campus on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.

Katie Heath was elected to be the 2024-25 graduate and professional student body president, the UNC Board of Elections announced at around 12:15 a.m. Wednesday morning. She will be sworn into the position in April.

Heath won with 58.39 percent of the overall vote, and opposing candidate Benjamin King received 40.38 percent of the vote. Write-in candidates received 1.21 percent

Heath said she didn't expect to get the election results until morning, but was so nervous that she couldn't sleep. She woke up at 6 a.m. to an email telling her she had gotten the position.

"I'm excited to get to work," Heath said. "I think already the work has begun, day after the election."

Heath, who currently serves as senior vice president of the GPSG, is a fifth-year biomedical engineering Ph.D student. Her candidacy centered around ensuring healthcare access for graduate students, promoting transparency and fostering community among students.

Along with the Graduate Student Experience Initiative — which includes current GPSG president Lauren Hawkinson — Heath has been working to develop a "Student Bill of Rights" for the graduate school. Hawkinson told The Daily Tar Heel that Heath originally came up with the idea for the document, which aims to protect the needs and rights of graduate students who work at the university.

"I think we're getting to a point — I'm hoping very, very soon — where that's going to be something that we can release and have something pretty official on the table," Heath said. "So I am really excited about that."

Her platform also focused on providing graduate students with a stronger sense of community by encouraging the expansion of events and activities to South Campus, rather than confining them to the Pit and Student Union.

Heath said she spoke with King, who congratulated her over email on Wednesday.

"I think we both definitely feel like it's just so awesome that GPSG is really strong right now," Heath said. "The fact that there were even multiple really amazing candidates running was so cool."

She said one of her favorite parts about working in student government is getting to talk to and connect with people outside her area of study. Over the next month, Heath said she will be meeting with people to fill her executive board and cabinet positions.

"I think a lot of people are really excited and I had a lot of people telling me that they're really looking forward to next year," Heath said. "And so I think the energy is very high today, because of all that."

Out of 11,277 eligible voters, 411 graduate students cast votes in the election, according to the UNC BOE. That's a turnout of 3.64 percent.

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