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The Graduate School has launched another new series called "Meet Your Student Leaders." This series will provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows an opportunity to get to know the students who run the various graduate student organizations. This week's featured student leader is Nirzari Gupta, president of the Graduate Student Government.

""Q: What is your name, age and program of study?

A: "My name is Nirzari Gupta, I am 27 and currently a doctoral candidate in the chemistry department of UAB."

Q: What is your role within the organization?

A: "I serve as the President of Graduate Student Government (GSG) at UAB for the year 2018-19."

Q: What responsibilities does that role entail?

A: "I am responsible for ensuring regular communication with the graduate student body, including leading weekly and monthly meetings with leadership team. I oversee a budget of approximately $90,000. I act as an ambassador of the Graduate Student Government in diverse forums including town halls, panels and meetings. I develop and coach teams of 15 executive committee direct reports and approximately 50 active senators. I oversee the recruitment, intake and training of student senators. For service, I organize logistics for and lead focus groups with stakeholders for various topics. I network with partners to build relationships and support for graduate student interests among university administration, local, state and federal government."

Q: How much time do you dedicate to the organization?

A: "It varies according to the time of the year. On average, I dedicate at least 6-7 hours per week for GSG planning and activities."

Q: How are you benefitting from this leadership position? How will it help you achieve your future career goals? What are you learning from this role?

A: "This role has put significant impact in my professional life. Representing the graduate student body to the upper administration taught me how to use the given resources effectively and how to do time management. Managing and working with around 40-50 senators helps develop the organizational skills. My future career goal resembles around project management of a chemical industry and this role will definitely help in developing the transferable skills like communication, project management skills, leadership skills, team building skills, problem solving approach, etc. Apart from all these, this role has been real fun to be around like-minded people and share ideas."

Q: Why should graduate students get involved in student organizations?

A: "GSG is a great platform to learn and develop necessary skills in most of the career options. Our different types of committees give opportunity to match your thriving idea to implement in events. Senators of GSG represent their departments and act as a binding chain between their department and administration, which is an honorable achievement. To appreciate a senator’s involvement, we also provide two travel grants of $400 to senators during their program duration."

Q: Why should graduate students get involved in leadership positions within those student organizations?

A: "I think it is a great opportunity to get involved in the leadership position of GSG because you will get an actual exposure to use your creativity and conduct events, which can benefit fellow graduate students. GSG also has defined roles for each leader and it works exactly as any higher level organization, which will provide learning opportunity to work with a team and how to critically think ideas and execute them."

Q: How do you balance being a graduate student with the responsibilities that come from this leadership position?

A: "This position has many responsibilities which sometimes need dedicated attention. With proper time management and active use of Google calendar makes me on schedule. I also try to limit my meetings during lunch hours or after-work hours so I can smartly manage time, do my experiments and also network with my team, as well as other stakeholders."

Q: What else do you do?

A: "I am a member of Sigma Xi scientific society, American Chemical Society (ACS) and Association of Indian students. I also serve as chairperson of the new senators committee, which helps in new senators’ recruitment and training. I volunteer with Hands of Birmingham sometimes. I enjoy walking in the nature with my favorite meditation app “headspace.” I am a wife of a post-doctoral scientist and we both enjoy outdoor activities like river rafting, playing volleyball, basketball, cricket, etc. I also enjoy cooking various cuisines occasionally, and my husband is the guinea pig of my cooking experiments."

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