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GSC selects commencement speakers, continues discussions on food insecurity, housing

GSC also announces recipients of awards recognizing outstanding community contributions

<p>During the meeting, master’s student Amelia Spalter GS and PhD student Jiuyang Bai GS were voted to speak at this year’s graduate student graduation ceremony.</p>

During the meeting, master’s student Amelia Spalter GS and PhD student Jiuyang Bai GS were voted to speak at this year’s graduate student graduation ceremony.

At the Graduate Student Council’s monthly meeting Wednesday, graduate departmental representatives voted on commencement speakers for this year’s graduate student graduation ceremony.

The meeting opened with several graduate students presenting a condensed version or summary of their speech. Ultimately, master’s student Amelia Spalter GS and PhD student Jiuyang Bai GS won the vote to speak at the ceremony in May.

Spalter, a religious studies student, spoke lightheartedly about her unconventional path to graduate school in her speech.

“I didn't go to high school. I have a GED. I only applied to one graduate program,” she said. “I almost didn't go to college at all, let alone graduate school with people as smart as you. Are you kidding me?”


Graduation is “not about who we are and how we got here. This is celebratory and not about looking down and back, but forward and out,” she concluded.

During the condensed speech of Bai, who studies cognitive science, he reflected on his first days at Brown as an international student.

“I was nervous, but allowing myself to feel that way reminded me that everyone has been through the same and I'm not alone,” Bai said. “Vulnerability connects us because we all have been through tough times.”

After the speakers were chosen, GSC President Alex Jordon GS stressed the need for volunteers to work the ceremony. He said that the commencement is expected to have a larger attendance than previous years because students who graduated virtually in 2021 were welcomed to attend this year’s celebrations.

GSC has discussed concerns over food insecurity emergency resources for graduate students at every meeting this semester, and continued those conversations at this meeting.

Multiple graduate students at the meeting commented that the current application-based program is lengthy and difficult to use. In response, Jordon said that GSC intends to make the “daunting” application process simpler and more accessible.

“The Graduate Student Council continues to advocate for more abundant resources for graduate students to meet the needs of students regarding food insecurity,” Jordon said.

Winners of the Bates-Clapp Award and Wilson DeBlois Award, which recognize community members who have made outstanding contributions to graduate students, were also announced during the meeting.

Nominations chair Teressa Chambers GS announced that postdoctoral fellow Sophie Abramowitz GS will be awarded the Bates-Clapp Award and Lorraine Mazza, former manager of graduate studies, will receive the Wilson DeBlois Award.

Ambramowitz’s “nomination demonstrated that she has gone far above and beyond career expectations in advocating for her students and in supporting them outside the classroom,” Chambers said.


According to Chambers, Mazza retired last semester after 44 years. “Many fond memories of her kindness and warmth were shared in the nominations,” she added.

Next, Jordon announced that the University's Anti-Black & Systemic Racism Venture Grant is now available for applications online through the UFunds website.

“This grant serves to bring University community members together to create innovative solutions that address anti-Black and systemic racism,” Jordon said.

Additionally, Jordon explained that University-owned River House will hold 270 more beds to graduate students in the upcoming semester. He said that he hopes this change will make it easier for students to find housing.

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“This is a luxury apartment building,” Jordon said. “We’re also advocating for housing that is ‘non-luxury’ for students” who cannot afford it.

The meeting concluded with information regarding upcoming events for the graduate student community. A game night for master’s students is scheduled for April 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. Additionally, the annual spring formal will be held May 6 in Sayles Hall, and Research Matters, an event for graduate students to showcase research, will take place April 21 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Grace Holleb

Grace Holleb is a University News section editor covering academics and advising. She previously covered the graduate student council beat as a senior staff writer. In her free time, Grace enjoys spending time with friends, traveling and running. 

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