GSA president prioritizing space and services for graduate students

Aidan Smyth is looking at pushing forward some proverbial yardsticks as the 2015-16 President of Brock’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA).

Smyth will focus on continuing to champion initiatives that his GSA council predecessors have set in motion on behalf of approximately 1,700 Brock graduate students. Chief among those priorities are securing additional physical space and developing services that are central to enhancing the graduate student experience here.

Already, with the fall academic term just beginning, Smyth and his executive team have progress to report on both fronts.

Recently the GSA was given the go-ahead to take over a room next to its office space at the 300 level of Mackenzie Chown C Block. Smyth says that will be a positive step toward grander designs that the GSA has in mind.

“Graduate student space has been a big priority for the past few years,” he says. “We keep emphasizing to the University how important it is to have designated space for graduate students — a place where they can meet informally, socialize and come together as a community. We’ll keep pressing to make that happen in a way that creates a dynamic area for grad students.”

As for student services, Smyth wants to be sure that graduate students are aware of the resources and services that currently exist. The GSA website has expanded information about services including a new GSA Student Housing Resource that developed through discussions with students.

“It’s important to keep the conversation going around the table about the kind of services that graduate students feel they need to have access to in order to be successful in their studies, research and personal development,” he says.

“One of my strengths will be in developing marketing strategies and tools for the GSA to enhance our communications with students and at the same time promote the contributions that graduate students make to teaching and research at Brock,” he says.

Smyth, 25, has been at Brock for six years. After finishing a concurrent bachelor’s degree in education and physical education, he moved into a master’s program in Applied Health Sciences. His research focuses on exercise psychology with a specific interest in studying the relationship between weight training, men’s body image and psychosocial stress. He is the recipient of a prestigious national scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to support his research.

“A lot of this kind of research focuses on women and I’m interested on the factors that impact men,” says Smyth, who is supervised by Associate Professor Kimberley Gammage.

Brock has become a second home for Smyth who was raised in Perth, Ont., a town of 5,840 located about an hour’s drive southwest of Ottawa. He has immersed himself in student life and student leadership with an assortment of campus jobs and activities including working as a team leader with Brock’s Smart Start first-year academic orientation program.

“I feel after seven years that I know the university well,” he says. “This position will give me more insight into the University. Personally, it’s a way to push me out of my comfort zone and I like jobs that force me to do that. I have a passion for working with students and encouraging them to make the most out of their University experience.”

2015-16 Graduate Students’ Association Executive

Aidan Smyth — President

Amanda Longo — Vice-President, Student Affairs

Lee Belding — Vice-President, Finance

Kirsten Bott — Vice-President, Communications

Jacqueline Beres — Vice-President, Equity and External Affairs

Erin Higgs — Vice-President, International

Julia Polyck-O’Neill — Senate Representative

Bryan Giordano — Senate Representative

Peter Stoyanov — Board of Trustees Representative

Aidan Smyth says the best graduate student experience will:

  • allow you to develop academically, professionally and socially
  • provide rich learning opportunities within and beyond the classroom
  • provide opportunities to explore your research interests and passions
  • push you outside of your comfort zone and expose you to new challenges, opportunities, and experiences
  • allow you to learn from individuals/mentors who share similar interests and passions
  • prepare you for your next steps in life, whatever they may be
  • allow you to become active and involved in the school community
  • provide opportunity to give back to the community
  • foster social interaction and a sense of community amongst graduate and undergraduate students

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