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GSC decides commencement speakers, postpones elections

Deanna Stueber GS, Nadia Tsado GS to represent graduate students at commencement

By the time GSC began its election process, only 19 of the 50 voting representatives present at the beginning of the meeting remained.
By the time GSC began its election process, only 19 of the 50 voting representatives present at the beginning of the meeting remained.

At its monthly general body meeting this Wednesday, the Graduate Student Council selected Nadia Tsado GS and Deanna Stueber ScM ’18 GS to deliver speeches on behalf of master’s and PhD students, respectively, at their commencement ceremonies on May 25 and 26. 

The Council selected the commencement speakers after hearing sample speeches from three master’s students and three PhD students. 

In her sample speech, Stueber discussed passion, personal development, discovery and perseverance, adopting a humorous tone to address the roadblocks and hardships that PhDs encounter. 

“If you’ve ever taken a drive through Providence, you already know exactly what a PhD is like: unpredictable, usually bumpy and always an adventure. Some of these issues were small potholes. And others were the big Providence bridge shutdown because, apparently, it was hanging on by a thread — just like us,” she began the speech.


Stueber carried the Providence road condition metaphor through her speech, ending with “Congratulations, Class of 2024. May your futures be as bright and hopeful as a newly paved Providence road.”

Laura Lark ’11 GS and Cel Welsh GS also auditioned to deliver the PhD speech. 

Lark focused her speech on one question: “Why are we here?” In doing so, she described why one might pursue a PhD and the appeal of challenge, collaboration, adventure and approval.

Welsh addressed overcoming imposter syndrome and the importance of breaking the limits placed on students. Sharing that they didn’t attend their undergraduate or master’s graduation ceremonies, Welsh explained, “I was worried that all those eyes would look up at me and see that I didn’t belong there.” 

“Coming here was like waking up to my own potential,” they added. “I finally felt acceptance and belonging and I blossomed as a student, scientist, teacher and mentor.”

Tsado, Laurel Cipriani GS and Allison Ferlito GS delivered sample speeches for the master’s commencement ceremony.

Tsado framed the speech around her love for the Olympics, using it as a metaphor for the perseverance of master’s students through their time at Brown.

“Our values make us who we are,” she said.

Cipriani, in a pre-recorded video, spoke about her chronic disease and the difference Brown made in enabling her to combat shame around being disabled.

Ferlito then addressed the importance of having community and support amidst adversity, referencing “the ongoing, passionate activism of students at Brown.” 


“In a society often intent on changing the channel, these student examples remind us that someone out there still cares and that we all should too,” she said.

The Council was also set to vote on its next president, chair of technology, chair of masters’ advocacy, chair of international advocacy, chair of education and chair of diversity, equity and inclusion at this meeting, The Herald previously reported.

But when GSC began its election process and heard from two candidates running for president — Kevin LoGiudice ScM’21 GS and Saoirse GS — the meeting had already gone an hour over schedule and only 19 voting representatives remained, compared to the 30 who voted in the commencement selection, GSC President Farha Mithila GS wrote in an email to The Herald.

Initially, the Council went ahead with a vote for the presidential candidates, but LoGuidice and Saoirse each received seven votes, with five abstaining. At this point, GSC postponed all further voting — including the presidential election — to the Council’s May meeting, according to Mithila. 

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Mithila ended the meeting by asking representatives to share a form with students “to understand our graduate community's thoughts on GSC's involvement in divestment/divestment campaigns,” according to the form. The Council has yet to issue any official statements on the matter, distinguishing it from the Graduate Labor Organization — the union for the graduate student body — which has made divestment central to its organizing this spring.

Katie Jain

Katie Jain is a University News editor from New Jersey overseeing the graduate student life beat. She is a junior concentrating in International and Public Affairs and History.


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