Two SBU Students Elected to Help Lead National Graduate Association

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Stony Brook University graduate students Shruti Sharma and James Vassallo were elected to serve in positions on the Northeast Regional Board of Directors for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS). They will represent graduate students in the northeast and at Stony Brook University on issues of importance to the graduate student community. They will also be involved in national and regional advocacy efforts.

Left to right: James Vassallo, Shruti Sharma and Joseph Verardo

Shruti Sharma, a PhD candidate in Materials Science and Chemical Engineering and a guest researcher at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL), was elected as the Northeast Regional International Student Concerns Advocate. James Vassallo, a Master’s in Public Health candidate, was elected to serve as Northeast Regional Director of Outreach.

Shruti is working in the lab of Professor Rina Tannenbaum for her PhD project. She is passionate about science communication, STEM outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists. Her leadership roles include Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Productions Director, co-founding and coordinating a PAN-India STEM outreach effort, serving as a mentor and instructor for Women in Science and Engineering at SBU, Symposium Coordinator and Communications Chair for the Early Career Researcher Symposium at BNL, Treasurer for Brookhaven Women in Science, and mentor for the Student Alumni Relations Cell, IIT Bombay, her undergraduate alma mater.

Through these roles and her volunteer work with the New York Academy of Sciences, Shruti has served in numerous capacities as a student representative, educator and advocate for the sciences and for underrepresented minorities.

“I am looking forward to collaborating with the National International Students Concerns Advocate, to gather support and strengthen NAGPS’ position on current actions on domestic F1 visa renewal. I will support the Northeast Regional Board in building relations with other schools in the northeast,” said Shruti.

James completed his undergraduate studies at Stony Brook, majoring in biology and sociology, and is now pursuing a MPH degree. James served as Executive Chair of the President’s Council of Student Advisors, President of the Commuter Student Association (CSA), Vice President of Project Sunshine, as a Commuter Assistant, Student Ambassador, Student Legacy Council Member, and Steering Committee Member of the HeForShe initiative at Stony Brook. James is currently GSO Office Manager.

For the President’s Council of Student Advisors, James directed a year-long institutional research project utilizing qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods including focus group and online survey design and implementation. As President of CSA, James increased the association’s membership. He worked alongside the GSO and with then Treasurer Joe Verardo to collaborate on and create new events, and publicly open all CSA events and meetings to both undergraduate and graduate students — creating the first University organization to openly welcome graduate and undergraduate students. James plans to apply his experience in recruitment and building partnerships to his new role in the NAGPS.

Other universities with representatives on the NAGPS Regional Board of Directors include Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury.

Joseph Verardo is the current National Vice President of the NAGPS, previously serving as the Association’s Director of Finance. At Stony Brook, he served as Treasurer of the GSO, as a member of the Stony Brook Council, and as a member of the University Senate Executive Committee.

“I am excited to have Shruti and James representing Stony Brook among the other elite institutions. Both have made significant contributions to the Stony Brook community,” said Joseph. “It is important that student’s voices are heard in higher education policy and decision-making. After all, higher education is first and foremost for the students. The NAGPS allows them to elevate their voices and work together on the shared interests of graduate and professional students across the United States.”

Last year the Stony Brook GSO hosted the NAGPS’ 30th Anniversary National Conference. The National Conference saw graduate student leaders from across the country gather for three days of sharing best practices, advocacy techniques and initiatives, and the building of future relationships between student leaders across the United States. At the event, the Stony Brook GSO was awarded the National Member of the Year Award for its commitment to improving graduate students’ quality of life, being their voice, and representing them at local and national levels.

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